Caridad "Letty" Torres Antonio
August 23, 1936 – February 21, 2021
Caridad Torres Antonio, 84, of Secaucus, NJ passed away Sunday, February 21, 2021. Known to family and friends as “Letty” lived a happy and full life. Originally born in Cagayan de Oro in the Southern side of the Philippines, she travelled to the Northern part to pursue a bachelor’s degree in home economics from the University of the Philippines in Los Banos Laguna where she met Teodoro “Teddy” Antonio in 1957. It was love at first sight and the whirlwind romance immediately led to marriage the year after, in 1958, and the couple relocating to Teddy’s hometown in the central Philippines, San Carlos City. They raised their four children there and Letty finished her Bachelor’s degree in Education at the Colegio de Sta Rita. Teddy and their only daughter, Tessa, left for the United States in the early 1980’s. Letty followed them in the mid 1990’s and they settled in New Jersey for the past nearly 40 years. She worked as an elementary school teacher in the Newark public school district for nearly 20 years. Throughout her life, Letty was known to be a very active church member, serving in her local Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church of Secaucus in New Jersey, as lector and reader and very rarely missing Sunday masses and holy days of obligation. Consistent with her favorite color, yellow, Letty was always a joy to be with, and the person to turn to if one needs a kind listening ear. Letty is survived by her sister, Ophelia Turno in the Philippines, her husband Teddy with whom they have 4 loving children, 13 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren: Teoderick and Lorna and grandchildren Germaine, Teoderick IV, Marie, Racquel, Maricris and great grandchildren Lorenzo and Irie , Rafael and Nina; Tessa and Michael and grandchildren Melissa and Samantha; Arnold and Jacqueline and grandchildren Teodoro, Rosabella and Analia; and Jojo and Myrish and grandchildren Miggy, Marcky and Mari. She will always be remembered as a loving mom and grandmother, a devout Catholic, a beloved colleague and compassionate friend.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Caridad "Letty" Torres Antonio
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Prof. Priscilla Lasmarias Kelso
February 25, 2021
My one and only time to meet Letty Antonio was at Harvard when Myrish, her=daughter-in-law, received the Harvard Heroes Award. We sere seated next to each other and it took very little time for us to connect like old friends -- talking about teaching, our families, our experiences as Filipino-Americans, etc. Letty struck me as an open, highly-approachable person, as she talked about her love for her family, her pride in her successful young grandsons, her faith in God.
I wish I could have known her more.
Prof. Priscilla Lasmarias Kelso/ Boston
February 25, 2021
When I was 8 years old, I asked my Lola Letty what her favorite color was. She said: “Yellow”. Normally that would have been a good answer but I felt the need to ask why. “It reminds me of the sun, the warm sun hitting my face while I watched my children play; It also reminds me of the yellow dress I once made your mom wear; It makes me remember and reminds me of how blessed I am,” was her response. Leave it to Lola to make a color so emotional! Today we are here to remember and celebrate the life of Caridad “Letty” Torres Antonio and remind ourselves how blessed our family is to have had her as a wife, sister, mother, friend and Lola. She leaves behind her husband, 1 sister, 4 children, 14 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
She enjoyed gardening and spending time with her family. Telling stories of her childhood to her grandchildren and calling her children all hours of the day were her favorite things to do. Lola loved to play mah-jong with her friends and family and never lost! She loved taking walks with her husband,that she would usually have to bride him to go on with food. I have been blessed to learn so many things from our Lola. She taught me that everyone deserves kindness no matter who they are or where they came from. She taught me that 7am is the perfect time to blast your favorite songs, wash some dishes and sing your heart out. She taught me that family is above all else and that taking care of one another is so important. If you ever had the chance to spend time with her I hope you learned of her selflessness, you saw her kind heart and you felt her love because that’s all that she was. She spent her whole life putting others first above herself with her full, yet gentle heart.
My Lolita, I will always love you and you will forever be a part of me. Dave,Pika and I will miss you!
February 25, 2021
This sweet lady was always so kind and welcoming. We are so very, very sorry for the tremendous loss you all are going through. We love you all and wish we could be there for you. We send our deepest condolences and much love. Dad and Mom
Myrish Cadapan Antonio
February 24, 2021
I remember meeting her for the first time in 1993. Jojo was just elected as President of the Silliman Student Government, campaigning under a platform to improve the University’s enrolment system, a project that he asked me to chair. He was the only one who had a computer among us so I was forced to spend time after school at his home in Piapi with a few others. Whenever we were there, this kind-hearted, warm woman that he called Mom would make sure we had food while he left us to play basketball.
Fast forward to 2001 when, in a call, she thanked me for agreeing to marry her son. She told me she remembered me from our student government days and never expected us to end up together. Who knew? When Jojo and I met Daddy Teddy and Mommy Letty in Manila in June 2002 before our wedding, she was as sweet, as gentle, as warm, as I remembered her to be. I knew I would not only have a second mom but also another good friend.
Over the years, Mommy Letty and I have spent long hours in conversation. She was one who always put others first, especially her family. Her life’s mission of taking care of those she loves is so palpable in her words and actions. Mommy Letty is compassion and soft-hearted. You would be talking to Mommy Letty about something and out of the blue, she would just burst into tears. She had such a deep connection to others and the world in that way. At 84, Mommy remained energetic, sharp in thinking and deeply religious. She prayed any chance she could for her loved ones.
While I thank Mommy for everything she has done for our family including giving our hemophiliac twins boys a chance at a near-normal life by bringing them to the US, I am most grateful for being married to her youngest son, Jojo.
Mommy, we will miss you. We will miss hearing your voice of loving motherly concern and excitement of each small accomplishment. It will be a hard road ahead but we will honor your memory by passing forward all of the love and kindness you have shown us.
February 24, 2021
It was Thanksgiving 2014. I distinctively remember walking into the door at our family’s New Jersey home and seeing Lola Letty and Lolo Teddy sitting by the old setup which is now a couch and a tv. I kissed their hands, a Filipino tradition my parents taught us to do when we meet older people. I then proceeded to meet others from my dad’s side of the family- my cousins Missy and Sam, aunt Tita Tess and uncle Tito Mike. The next few days felt nice as we ate many different types of food including chicken adobo and went to our all favorite restaurant. Jollibee. We also visited my Lolo Willie’s house and where I met other cousins, aunt and uncles and enjoyed such delicious Filipino food. It made me miss home.
We continued to spend more Thanksgivings and Christmases with our family in New Jersey, not minding the 4-5 hour drive from Boston. Lola Letty always greeted us with a smile and Lolo Teddy would always spoil me with the many toys that he bought for me. During the summer, we would visit many places with my Lolo and Lola’s and we enjoyed many memories together. I could smell Lola Letty’s perfume and would see her have hair curled up as she walked into the living room.
Lola Letty was someone who had a type of presence that was memorable. I remember walking her towards the local ice cream shop with her while my brothers walked behind us. Before we would leave to go back to Boston after a week’s vacation, the most unforgettable thing Lola Letty would do is cook “biko” [rice cake] in the kitchen and we made sure to eat it as much as we can before it would expire. When she spent three months with us last year, it was really special to have her cook “biko” anytime we wanted.
It was definitely tough to see her go at such an age where she was healthy and happy and living life with compassion. We rest in the thought that she passed on peacefully. I would have certainly preferred to be able to see her live a few more years. We only have one life and I hope that she was able
February 24, 2021
Leddy was a blessing with whom to serve. During Mass she focused on what was happening with the sincerity of one who loved the Lord. She never looked at the people entering the church. She was part of the Service. She was a kind and sweet Catholic Christian sister. I will miss her. God bless. Tony
February 23, 2021
When my brothers and I arrived at my aunt’s house in New Jersey, following Lola’s hospitalization, we got into a friendly argument over who her favorite grandchild was. My cousin Sam’s first question to defend the prized position: “What is Lola’s favorite color?”
As soon as she asked that question, silence filled the room. My brothers and I were silent. We had no idea what her favorite color was. Although the television was on, I could not hear anything but the sound of my own heartbeat. I felt ashamed. Was I that bad of a grandson? I thought back to the time I spent with her, scanning over thousands of memories, delving deep into the inner layers of that fragile object nestled in my head. My journey led me to Voice Memo #115 on my iPhone. Without Lola knowing, I had secretly recorded the time she recollected what it was like living in the Philippines during World War II.
As I listened closely to the 8-minute recording, I realized how futile my inner conflict was. There are no parameters that accurately assess how much you know someone, much like there are no feelings to describe how much you love someone. It was not that I didn’t know Lola well. On the contrary, I found that I knew more about her life than I thought I did. When she was just a child, she had to hide in a house on the mountainside from Japanese soldiers for over three years, learning how to write and read the English alphabet using embers of charcoal. During the September 11 attacks, she walked all the way from New Jersey to New York just to make sure my grandfather was alright.
I discovered a truth that mitigated the sadness I felt over the loss of my grandmother: just because love may not render an absolute knowledge of another’s preferences does not make the emotion any less profound. Knowing that Lola and I shared an implicit love that we chose to address vocally through stories brings me joy. More importantly, it reminds me to be grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of her life.