OBITUARY

Maria Cristina G-Longoria Chibas

April 13, 1927January 6, 2020
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Maria Cristina G.-Longoria Chibás 1927-2020 Maria Cristina Chibás, fondly called “Nené” by her family and close friends, was born in Gibara, Cuba in 1927 to Angel Gonzalez-Longoria and Maria Dolores Alvarez. She was the youngest of four; her siblings were Ricardo, Maria Dolores (Tití), and Angel. Although nicknamed “Nené,” Spanish for “baby,” she was often the most daring and adventurous of her siblings. She grew up loving to climb tall trees, scaling rocky shorelines, and swimming out beyond the safety of shallow waters. Her father often referred to her as “La Torona del Solar,” after she boldly ran through a dark empty lot that even older siblings and cousins were too afraid to cross. In her elementary years, Nené grew up in Sempré during the Great Depression. Her aunt, Maria Josepha (“Pepa”) and her father, Angel, were fortunate to remain employed. Separately, their earnings were not enough to support their own families, but together they were able to care for everyone. As a result, Nené grew up living with her family and that of her aunt, uncle, and cousins. She always spoke of her cousins like siblings and lived her life with the support of those close ties. As a teenager Nené’s family moved to Guantanamo, where she spent her youth going to social gatherings, dances, and outings with her cousins and friends. Through mutual acquaintances, she met her future husband, Guido Chibás. At the time, she was studying in La Escuela del Hogar and he was planning to travel to the U.S. to study engineering. Although in the early stages of their courtship, the distance did not hinder their relationship. Nené always referred to her courtship with Guido as the best time of her life, joking that he was a bit heavyset but she liked him all the same. In 1954, Nené and Guido married and moved to Camaguey. They moved back to Guantanamo where Nené had her first child, Maria Cristina. In the following years, they moved back and forth from Guantanamo and, briefly, Santiago. They welcomed two more children, Guido and Magdalena. With the outbreak of the Cuban revolution, Nené and Guido planned to leave the country. Their plans were derailed when Guido was forced to seek refuge from political persecution at the U.S. Naval base. Nené was left to arrange for her escape and that of her three children. During this time, Nené frantically worked to secure visas and flights for her family. She learned, however, that flights out of the country were closing. She remained determined in the face of desperation and stopped in a church to pray for a safe passage out of Cuba. Her prayers were answered. This moment was just one of many where Nené relied on her faith to see her through the struggles of life. She passed this value on to her children and grandchildren. After making the journey from Cuba with her three children, Nené traveled to New York to live with her uncle. Guido joined her shortly thereafter and they lived in Brooklyn for a time. Her fourth child, Maria Rosa, was born. The years that followed brought Nené and her family to Florida, where they lived in Key West and Ft. Pierce before finally settling in West Palm Beach. While living in Key West, they welcomed twins, Matilde and Mercedes. As she made a new life in the U.S., Nené made caring for her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren an integral part of her life. She showed them how to find amusement in the otherwise mundane; patterns in the bark of a tree, the quack of ducks as they devour bread thrown across an abandoned pond, the site of dump trucks as they unloaded heaps of trash, or the unique shapes formed by seashells when arranged into a picture. Nené spoke fondly of her youth in Cuba, preserving the culture and her life in stories, poetry, songs, paintings, embroideries, and family traditions. Her creativity and preservation of joy through hardships became the thread that stitched together the patchwork of relatives near and far. Nené and Guido’s love remains at the center of their large family, which grows more and more each year. They are survived by their six children, ten grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, January 8, 2020
  • Mass of Christian Burial Thursday, January 9, 2020
  • Committal Service Thursday, January 9, 2020

Memories

Maria Cristina G-Longoria Chibas

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Peg and John Staeheli and Troup

January 8, 2020

we observed many many times the giving, sharing, laughing, and caring that this amazing woman embedded in her family and friends.

My funny memory is when I dared to ask her if I could buy one of her amazing works of art- trees..... the look on her face was as if I asked for one of her grandchildren.....and yes we now cherish our tree in our home.

Love and hugs John and Peg

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