Everybody Has a Story: Orlando Alvarez

PPh is blessed with residents who have lived remarkable lives.  On November 20, at Founders Day, we featured the stories of three residents.  Below is the life story of Orlando Alvarez

Orlando AlvarezOrlando Alvarez was born in Havana, Cuba, on February 20, 1929.  His parents, Maria and Anthony emigrated to Cuba from Spain.   He has a brother, Anthony, and two sisters, Josefa, and Blanca.

His childhood was like anyone else’s who lived on a Caribbean island—days spent at the beach and the ocean and playing baseball.  However, they had hurricanes all the time. He remembers the Pinar del Río Hurricane of 1944 that caused 300 deaths in rural Cuba.

His father got him a job as a bookkeeper in the office of the Havana electric company.  He met his future wife, Maria Emelina, on a bus to work.  She worked for a clothing manufacturer.

Orlando said, “We took the same bus. I saw her and thought she was pretty.  The bus driver would wait for me to get on if she was already on the bus.”

They dated for a year and were married on December 27, 1950, at a lawyer’s office in Havana.  Their son, Orlando, Jr. was born in 1954.

From 1952 to 1959, Cuba became embroiled in a revolution, which brought Fidel Castro to power. In 1961, Orlando took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion and was captured and put into jail.  He was scheduled to be executed, but the guard mistook him for someone else and let him go.  A friend told him that he must leave the country, because if he didn’t, he would most certainly be killed.  He managed to get his seven year old son and his wife asylum in Venezuela through his brother-in-law.  Lastly, he left, and brought his family to Miami, Florida.

In Miami, he started out washing dishes and cooking and working in a bakery.  His wife worked as a seamstress.  Eventually he got a job with Caribbean Airlines.  Caribbean was bought out by American Airlines and he moved to Queens, New York, and worked at John F. Kennedy Airport as a crew supervisor.

He and his wife retired in 1994 and they traveled extensively to Florida, Hawaii, California, Puerto Rico, Canada, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic.

He is very proud of his son, his daughter in law Patty and his two grandsons, Christopher and Robert.

He moved to PPh after his wife passed away and is happy to be here. He plays bingo for blood and likes to give the candy bar prizes to the staff because he shouldn’t eat them.  From April to October you will find him watching baseball on TV.  Unfortunately, he is a New York fan.

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