Yolanda Ortal-Miranda

Yolanda Ortal: Obituary

Yolanda Ortal-MirandaYolanda Ortal
Feb. 24, 1930 – Dec. 26, 2015

Yolanda Ortal, a true lover of life, goodness, and beauty, passed peacefully from this world on December 26, 2015, at her home in Sarasota, Florida. Yolanda was born in Encrucijada, Cuba, to loving parents whom she always credited for the values that guided her life: integrity, compassion, gratitude, and kindness. As a young adult, she lived through the Cuban Revolution, initially believing in Castro’s promises to re-establish a democracy, then fighting against it as a member of the underground when those promises were betrayed. In 1961, recognizing the invincible power of the Castro regime, and knowing that she could never live under a dictatorship, Yolanda immigrated to the United States. She became a proud and patriotic U.S. citizen, but she never forgot her beloved homeland. With her doctorate from the University of Havana and her innate ability to teach, Yolanda became a remarkable and beloved professor of Spanish Language and Literature at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, where her heart remained even after her retirement in 1992. Outside the classroom setting, she created Café Teatro, an annual community celebration of Hispanic arts and culture that attracted wide audiences over the years. Yolanda was an inspiration to countless students, many of whom stayed in touch her with her right up to her death. She often said that her students were her greatest joy. Yolanda’s second, and perhaps equal, love was writing; it was an avocation during her teaching years, but with the gift of time that retirement bestows, writing moved to the forefront of her interests. In addition to writing poems and short stories that were published in various countries around the world, she used her literary gifts to create two gripping books about her beloved homeland. She considered them to be her legacy to the world. The first, The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad, is a screenplay that tells the story of the Cuban Revolution, weaving together real and fictional characters against the backdrop of actual historical events. Her second book, When the Dolphins Cry, deals with an under-reported tragedy that has unfolded for decades just 90 miles away from the U.S. shores; the ongoing exodus by sea of thousands of Cubans, desperate for freedom, who have fled their homeland in anything that will float. Following the publication of the above-noted works, Yolanda explored other genres and wrote two additional books. She completed her final work – a play that she was determined to finish – just six weeks before her death. Yolanda leaves behind a circle of family members, friends and former students who are grieving her passing, but will forever remember her as a vibrant, exuberant, and loving gift to this world. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in New York, where her ashes will be laid to rest alongside her beloved mother, brother, and niece. Arrangements entrusted to National Cremation & Burial Society.