Pilar Velez, resident of South Burlington, VT, passed away on November 8th, 2020 at home in the arms of her daughter.
Pilar was born on Sept 8th, 1928 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Her parents were Pilar Rodriguez and Juan Saba Ortiz. Five days after her birth, the Okeechobee Hurricane (AKA San Felipe Segundo) hit the island. Her father was able to get everyone into a storm cellar to shelter from the storm. The storm devastated the entire island yet her family survived. Pilar was one of seventeen children, and was the daughter of a share cropper. She learned early on in life that nothing is given to you and that you have to work for what you need. After completing her high school education, Pilar was an artisan of intricate needlepoint design. As a young woman, she was sought after for her talent. She worked for an influential businessman who would
import fine silks from China for her to work on. Pilar met her husband George after he served in the 65th Infantry following World War 2. He was one of Borinqueneers, and was one of the fortunate in that he did not see action. Pilar and George got married on February 28, 1953, and moved from the island to New York City where they built a life in Lower Manhattan. Life was difficult as they encountered racial prejudice which was common place for newly arriving American citizens from Puerto Rico. Pilar worked as a seamstress to help supplement her husband's income. She raised five children in the Jacob Riis Housing Projects in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Fortunately, she instilled in her children a set of values which helped to keep them on “the straight and narrow”.
Pilar had strong ties to her faith and love of God. She was an amazing cook and had a sharp mind for business. Always a lover of simple pleasures such as a good story, traditional hymns and the sound of the coqui (Puerto Rican tree frogs) on a balmy Puerto Rican night. Above all, she adored her family. She is survived by her children Miriam "Cookie" Vega, George Velez, Fred Velez, Charlie Velez and their spouses Ray Vega, Nancy Velez, Linda Walsh and Sandra Velez and their families. She leaves behind her grandchildren Melody Goldman, Franklyn Cruz and Jordan Cruz (sons of Nancy Velez Cruz/Pilar’s deceased daughter), Jenise Gorman, Melani Rae Vega, Desi Velez, Aaron Vega, Thomas Vega, Amanda Robenstine, Samantha Loomis, Esmeralda Morales and an array of great grand children. Pilar relocated to Vermont in 2016 to live with Cookie and Ray and their family.
Cookie, Ray and their family would like to acknowledge BAYADA Hospice for their compassionate care, love, and kindness. They would also like to acknowledge Community Lutheran Church for their unwavering support. Ray and Cookie are eternally grateful for the support received by their close knit community in Vermont. Memorial donations can be made to the Community Lutheran Church/1560 Williston Road, South Burlington, Vermont, 05403/802-864-5537. Arrangements will be handled by AW Rich Funeral Home and a memorial service will be held at a later date due to COVID-19.