New London - Rosa Maria Vega de Orlando, 91, of New London, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, after a long illness.
She was born on Sept. 29, 1921, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Jose Abel Vega and Maria Rosa Aguilar. The daughter of an Argentine army sergeant who went on to become a Buenos Aires police officer
, Rosa Maria was raised in a strict but loving home, her mother Maria Rosa taking full charge of the household upon the early passing of her husband.
She was a diehard Peronista, avid fan of River Plate and lover of tango. Rosa Maria was a first hand witness to history, having grown up next to Ernesto "Che" Guevara. A staunch anti-communist, she refused to meet Fidel Castro when he came to pay respects to Guevara's family, even though he was at her front door.
Her disciplined upbringing allowed her to eventually rise to become director of personnel at Televel, a Buenos Aires factory that built small motor apparatus and motorcycles.
She was joined in holy matrimony to Saverio Orlando on Dec. 7, 1958. A strong believer in family, she grudgingly followed her husband emigrating to the U.S. in 1966, eventually settling in New London in 1968 where she made her home on Williams Street, her little bit of Buenos Aires where yerba mate was served every night.
Strong willed and stubborn, she along with a few other Latino immigrants to New London lobbied the Norwich Diocese in the early 1970s to provide Masses in Spanish at St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church; where she was a parishioner until she could no longer travel. This same group formed what was then called Nuestra Casa, the first Latino center in New London, the grandfather to all other Latino agencies that followed.
She was predeceased by her parents; two brothers, Jose Marcelino, Osvaldo Raul; and her sister, Esther Diamantina.
Rosa Maria is survived by her husband, Saverio; her daughters, Rosa C. Adams and her husband, James, of Ramona, Calif., Maria Victoria Orlando of New London; and a son, Felix A. Orlando and his wife, Ethel, of Waterford. Grandchildren, Chris Adams and his wife, Ann, of Arkansas, Jeremy Adams of Los Angeles, Calif., Joseph Adams of Ramona, Calif., along with Annabelle and Saverio Orlando of Waterford; and many great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 9, at St. Mary's Star of Sea Church, 10 Huntington St., New London.