July 12, 1930 ~ March 14, 2023
Born in: Cuba,
Resided in: Candler, NC
Victoria once said that she wanted to live the American dream, and she certainly succeeded. Born in a small town near Havana, she was the sixth child of Paula Maria Morales and Jesus Lopez, who immigrated from Spain to Cuba shortly after marrying. Eventually there would be four boys and four girls, and Victoria’s earliest memories were of playing pirates, swinging at a baseball, and climbing tropical trees loaded with fruits ripe and heavy with juice. This idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end when both her family and the government for which her father worked fell apart. By then her oldest brother had settled in the United States, so at 15, Victoria, her mother, and three of her siblings followed him to New York City, where winters were hard, and finances were harder.
Because her mother felt it was more important that boys receive an education, Victoria and her sisters became the breadwinners, supporting their brothers in their schooling. Fibbing about her age, she secured a job as a Spanish-English translator at an engineering firm in the city, where she met Alfred Fichera, the man who would be her faithful husband for the next 72 years! Marriage brought Vickie to northern New Jersey- which in the early 50’s was practically rural. Their daughter, Rita, was born a year later. Perhaps because she herself had been denied a full education, she dedicated herself not only to providing for her own daughter’s education, but also generously supporting her many nieces and nephews through their schooling as well. She became a valued translator in the Import/Export business, adding French to her list of languages, and continued working until she and Al moved to Florida, where she repurposed her linguistic gifts, becoming an advocate for new immigrants through Catholic Social Services in Jacksonville.
Victoria loved many things – classical music and old show tunes (to the exclusion of all other musical genres), gardening (often in high heels!), travel (always away from the cold and to warm places), and story-telling (sometimes fact, sometimes fantasy). These were beloved hobbies. But Victoria had two passions: First, all things Spanish. Although she often overlooked her hispanic-american background, she was fiercely loyal to her European heritage. Everything Spanish was better! Spanish food, the Spanish language, Spanish costumes, Spanish music, Spanish horses, Spanish people… She and Al hosted exchange students from Spain, befriended and entertained the sailors from every Spanish ship that docked at Port Jacksonville, and decorated their home with endless Spanish treasures. Her other passion was courting beauty. She surrounded herself with things she found beautiful – furniture, jewelry, clothing, furs, shoes, paintings, etc. And she embraced her own delicate looks, for hers was a timeless, classic beauty that astounded and entranced others, even as she aged.
Eventually it was dementia that slowed her down. First a little confusion, then she couldn’t walk, and slowly, over the course of years, life really changed. Through it all, Al was by her side, caring for her, keeping her safe, meeting her needs. When, at the age of 90, he was no longer able to do this by himself, they moved to western North Carolina, where they could be cared for by their daughter and son-in-law, Dale.
Victoria is survived by Rita and Dale, grandchildren and grandchildren-in-law, Jessica and Patrick, Joshua and Mary, Christina and Ricky, Rebecca and Steven, Elena and Sam, and Amanda and Imran, and great-grandchildren Phaidra, Eilonwy, Eidela, McLean, Juliana, Chloe, Maddox, Elijah, Samuel, Victoria Frances, Rosalee, and a new baby boy due in a few weeks. In her last year, Victoria often asked for her mother, her husband and her siblings. And she always wanted to “go home”, even when she was already home. Now her wish has been granted. Rest in peace, Victoria. You are finally with those whom you loved and missed. We are told there are many rooms in our Father’s house. Hopefully, you get the pretty Spanish one!
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated by the Rev. Fr. Dean Cesa on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to either St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 768 Asbury Rd. Candler, NC 28715, or to Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, 55 Ryder Rd., Ossining, NY 10562.
Funeral Mass: March 20, 2023 11:00 am
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church
768 Asbury Road
Candler, NC 28715
Funeral Home Assisting The Family:
Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806
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