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Thomas Medeiros

Coventry, R.I.

Thomas Medeiros was a family man. But with no wife or children of his own, he lavished his love on 12 nieces and nephews, six brothers and sisters, and his mother and father, all of whom lived near each other outside Providence.

"He put his family above all else," said Andrea Silva, a niece. "He is a wonderful, thoughtful, hard-working man, who did everything he could for his family and for people who needed him."

When a brother-in-law died unexpectedly of a heart attack several years ago, Medeiros, 40, moved to Coventry, where his sister lived, so she would not be alone.

The Medeiros family is a large, close-knit clan that moved to West Warwick, R.I., from Portugal 36 years ago.

When they learned that Medeiros and his girlfriend, Lori Durante of West Warwick, were among the missing, the family gathered to grieve together.

"We're just devastated. To me, he was more than an uncle," said another niece, Nicole Fusco, 19. "There are no words. He was the best. The best."