Graciela Rivera Zumchak
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July 17, 2011

Graciela Rivera Zumchak, 90, of Mays Landing, N.J., went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday, July 17, 2011. She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 52 years, Joseph Zumchak of Wilkes Barre; son Joseph Zumchak Jr. of Port Richey, Fla.; and seven brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico. She is survived by her daughter, Ginny Soto, and son-in-law Sam Soto of Mays Landing, N.J.; daughter-in-law, Jean Marie Zumchak; and grandchildren, Joseph Zumchak III, and Jacob Zumchak of Port Richey, Fla.; as well as many nieces and nephews. Local family includes Gary and Gregory Zumchak, the Rev. Ann Marie Acacio, Mary Louise Langdon, and Judy Womelsdorf. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Graciela Rivera was blessed with a voice of an angel and began singing opera at Central High School in Santurce, Puerto Rico. She married the love of her life, Joseph Zumchak, in 1941. Graciela studied at New York's Julliard School of Music and performed in the USO during World War II. The highlight of her professional career as an opera singer came in 1952, when she became the first Puerto Rican to perform at New York's Metropolitan Opera House as Lucia in "Lucia di Lammermoor." Graciela was an Assistant Professor at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York for 15 years. She received many honors recognizing her unique contributions to the world of opera and the music of Puerto Rico including honorary doctorates from Lehman College, N.Y., and the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. She retired in Puerto Rico and spent her final years living with her daughter, Ginny, in New Jersey. A viewing will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at Boakes Funeral Home, 6050 Main St., Mays Landing, N.J., where relatives and friends are invited to gather to celebrate her memory followed by reflections of her life at 5 p.m. A private burial will take place in Puerto Rico at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association. Info and condolences can be viewed at .

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Published in Times Leader on Jul. 20, 2011.
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