With the arrival the New Year, Smyrna lost one of its true angels with the passing of Linda Pinto.
Pinto died Sunday at her Smyrna home from complications due to pancreatic cancer. She was 62. Her body was donated to MedCure, a non-transplant tissue bank devoted to compassionate, ethical services that connect whole-body donors to medical research and education while providing innovation and opportunity for scientific medical advancements.
The Brooklyn, N.Y. native is survived by her daughter, Ann Marie Matthews; son Michael Pinto; and six grandchildren, Brittany-Lynn, Carissa, Michael, Matthew, Janiece and Nadya.
There will memorial life celebration on Thursday from 3 – 6 p.m. at in Smyrna. It was at Atkins Park and throughout the Jonquil City where Pinto was affectionately known as the “Angel Ride Lady.’’
Since 2006 as owner and manager of Angel Ride, Pinto had been assisting those who had too much to drink in the Smyrna-Vinings area receive a safe ride home. The nonprofit organization was a service that not only delivered over-the-limit patrons safely home, but their vehicles, as well.
The service was technically free, but tips and donations were welcomed. Pinto would often hang out at Atkins Park between runs and was beloved by all who came in contact with her according to her son.
“My mother had one of the warmest hearts you could ever know,’’ Michael Pinto said. “She was a very genuine woman and people would just gravitate to her because of her personality. People fell in love with her when they met her.”
Angel Ride operated five nights a week and Pinto and her former driving partner, Ed Demarais, who passed in 2010 following a heart attack, would shuttle home between 10-12 people per night. Often after a long night of helping deliver folks and their vehicles home safely, Pinto would not get back to her Smyrna abode until six or seven in the morning. In a 2010 MDJ story about Angel Ride, she explained why she did it.
“I love what I do, I love the people, I love the area,’’ Pinto told the Marietta newspaper. “Mostly the people that I take home are truly law-abiding people. They’ll stop at the bar after work and have a couple of drinks and say, ‘here’s my keys.’ They don’t take a chance, which I totally respect them for.”
Atkins Park bartender Jon Ziegler said he had the priviledge of know Pinto for the last six years.
"She was greeted with hugs from staff and patrons with every establishment she walked into,'' Ziegler said. "She was one of the most selfless and wonderful people I have ever met. She never met a person she didn't consider family. She welcomed my family like many others into her heart She was an angel with a heart of gold and will be truly missed."
Michael Pinto said that his mother passed peacefully and that Christmas was filled with much love as about 20 family members and friends gathered with his mother at her Smyrna residence.
“She always helped others and never asked for anything in return,’’ he said.