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Luis Mendoza

In loving memory of

February 14, 1942 - September 3, 2020

A Celebration of Life

Saturday, October 10, 2020

11:00 a.m. Mountain Time 

1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

​​

Thank you to everyone who participated in the virtual memorial service.  (An estimated 100 attendees joined by Zoom, streaming video and phone.) 

Highlights

Tribute Video (closing): 

Eulogy by Luis Silva (script below):

[video coming soon]

 

A Celebration of Life

Saturday, October 10, 2020

11:00 a.m. Mountain Time 

1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

​​

Thank you to everyone who participated in the virtual memorial service. More than 100 attendees joined by Zoom, streaming video and phone.

Highlights

Tribute Video (closing):

Eulogy by Luis Silva (script below):

First Performance by Luke Scott:

Second Performance by Luke Scott:

Welcome Video:

In program order

Presenters

Bob Oldakowski

Trevor Lewis (officiant)

Donna Oldakowski Powell

Carolina Silva

Luis Silva (eulogy) 

Mary Ploski Seamon

Martha Fugate

Michael Clinton (poem)

Musical Selections

“Nostalgia” and “Looking for You (Love Theme)” from Cinema Paradiso, 

Yo-Yo Ma

 

“Lord, You Have Come / Pescador de hombres,” Cesáreo Gabaráin 

(performed by Luke Scott) 

 

“Someone to Watch Over Me,” George Gershwin (performed by Luke Scott)

 

“What a Wonderful World,” 

Louis Armstrong

 

Eulogy

I am Luis Silva, from Puerto Rico. My mother, Carolina, was Luis’ sister. He was two years younger than her, and they were very close. My siblings and I have very fond memories of Luis. For us he was a source of joy. We enjoyed his warmth, his humor, his wit. But for us, Luis also was a source of pride.

 

Let me start with a story. My memory might be wrong, but this is the way I remember it. These are beautifully painful memories. When Luis had the stroke 31 years ago, I was at the hospital with my mother and Bobby and Mayito Lobo. The doctors had told us that there was no hope, and we should say our goodbyes to Luis. Mayito and Bob went into the intensive care unit, and Mayito came out some time later. He told us that he had been holding Luis’ hand, saying goodbye, and that he told Luis that he would take care of Bobby, that Luis should not worry. Mayito said that he then felt that Luis squeezed his hand. At that point my mother jumped out of her chair and said: “Yes! He’s still there! You see, there is still hope!” To me that memory is so very symbolic now.

 

Luis was worldly, cultured, very well educated, well-travelled, sophisticated, fluent in three languages, a gifted writer, an intellectual. He was also very approachable, down to earth, wise, fun to be around, and very funny. He was very analytical, conscious of protocol and well mannered. He lived through a lot, and if I had to sum up his approach to life in one phrase, it would be: “We live in a cruel, cruel world, but there is a lot to enjoy here, and we’re going to be OK.”

 

Luis made his life with Bob, a marriage that is a great example for all of us about what partnership, commitment, love, and joy really can be. Our family is so grateful that Luis found Bob. They were meant for each other. But let’s keep it real – Bob has endured 31 years of struggle with a grace and optimism that few others are capable of. Bob is nothing short of heroic. Luis must have been a very good person, to have deserved Bob.

 

Luis was a family man. He made a family with Bob, and he had a very strong bond with his sister. They talked every day, first thing in the morning. Her passing 17 years ago was a big blow to him, but his love for her was evident in his regard for her children. He was so happy whenever we visited him. In 2015, my brother Alvaro Miguel and his wife Sandra went to Santa Fe with their four children. This was a highlight for Luis. My sisters and I also went to his and Bobby’s home when he fell ill last year, and he recovered very quickly and we had a great time. Talking to him, mostly through Bob, but also laughing at his jokes and his misbehaviors. His intelligence, wit and joy always came through, even when his words did not. In that sense, the stroke did not change him at all.

 

My mother and Luis were very young children when they lost their father, Raúl, and they were raised by their mother, Carola, herself an orphan since her teens. Luis grew up in Cuba, in a complicated world of wealthy cousins on both sides of the family, inheritances, family owned partnerships, and political turmoil. The three of them, Luis, my mother and their mother, were wealthy, but dependent on businesses that were controlled by their relatives. Since a very early age, Luis had to step up as the “head of the household.” He watched over their interests and made decisions for the three of them. I found some letters that Luis wrote in January of 1960, as a freshman at Harvard. The maturity of this 17 year old was impressive. He was giving his mother and sister advice – kindly, but with authority. He was in charge. Here is a quote from a letter written January 11, 1960 while my mother and grandmother were living in Madrid: “Slow down on your spending, because if we return to Havana, we will need the money to rebuild. Let’s not be the only ones who are ruined because we threw away our money, instead of because it was taken away.”

 

A few weeks later, shortly before his 18th birthday, he wrote to my mother. Again giving advice, he wrote: “Do not live waiting for Fidel to fall and for us to return to our previous life; leave that to those who have no future. You and I have our lives ahead of us, let’s not tie ourselves to a world that is disappearing.” He then explains to her that being rich can be a cop-out, and adds: “I do not mean to say that I do not like money, I enjoy it and plan to have as much money as possible so that you, our mother, and Nana and Tito will never want.” Nana was Carola’s cousin, married to Tito, loved dearly by Luis and my mother.

 

Luis was named after his father’s older brother, Luis Mendoza. His father had great foresight, because that Luis Mendoza took over the upbringing of his brother’s children, and both Luis and my mother dearly loved him and his wife, Consuelo. As it turns out, that other Luis Mendoza also had a great influence on the life of my father, Alvaro, long before he met my mother, so I was also named after that Luis Mendoza. After his dear uncle passed away, another impressive personality became the father figure for Luis – the “notorious” Julio Lobo, the king of sugar. Julio paid for Luis’s college education, but refused to do so at a liberal college like Harvard, and made Luis go to LSU (Louisiana State University) to study sugar engineering. 

 

Luis had a very successful business career. He was well known and recognized as an authority in the New York sugar trade, and he would write a market report that was sought after by all the major players, because of his unique insights and analysis, but also because of his style; he could bring humor and culture to the driest market data. In my early days in the sugar business, saying that I was the nephew of Luis Mendoza opened many doors for me.

 

Today we remember a very special man. We are grateful for the life of Luis Mendoza and for the love and joy he brought to our lives. He fought through hard times since he was a little boy. He lost everything he had, and he made sure that his family never lacked anything. He succeeded at everything, especially at love. We will remember him with pride.

 

IN BLACKWATER WOODS

Poem by Mary Oliver 

Look, the trees 

are turning 

their own bodies 

into pillars

 

of light, 

are giving off the rich 

fragrance of cinnamon 

and fulfillment,

 

the long tapers 

of cattails 

are bursting and floating away over 

the blue shoulders 

 

of the ponds, 

and every pond, 

no matter what its 

name is, is 

 

nameless now. 

Every year 

everything 

I have ever learned 

 

in my lifetime 

leads back to this: the fires 

and the black river of loss 

whose other side 

 

is salvation, 

whose meaning 

none of us will ever know. 

To live in this world 

 

you must be able 

to do three things: 

to love what is mortal; 

to hold it 

 

against your bones knowing 

your own life depends on it; 

and, when the time comes to let it go, 

to let it go.

Portraits by artist and friend

Frank Skorski, 1980s

 

Obituary 

Luis Gonzalez de Mendoza, 78, died at his Hondo Trail home in Santa Fe, N.M., on September 3, 2020. He was the beloved husband of Robert Oldakowski for 11 years and his life partner for 42 years. 

Luis was born February 14, 1942, in Havana, Cuba. He attended The Choate School in Connecticut and, after a year at Harvard University, graduated from Louisiana State University in 1964 with a degree in sugar engineering. He was a commodities broker at Merrill Lynch in New York City until health issues cut short his working career. After retiring to Key Biscayne, Fla., in 1990, the couple moved to Santa Fe in 2007. Luis continued to follow Wall Street financial markets and actively trade his portfolio using his laptop computer. 

Luis and Robert had a civil union ceremony in Grafton, Vt., in 2000 and officially married on August 4, 2009, in New Haven, Conn. 

Luis was predeceased by his father, Raul Gonzalez de Mendoza; his mother, Carola Olavarria Mendoza; and his sister, Carolina Mendoza Silva. He is survived by husband Robert; nieces and nephews Luis, Carolina, Lourdes, and Alvaro Miguel; cousins; and loving in-laws and friends. Luis' recent life was enriched by his loyal dog, Lucky, and helpers Veronica and Claudia. Arrangements are through Rivera Family Funeral Home.

Wedding Announcement in New York Times

Published August 8, 2009

Robert Oldakowski and Luis Gonzalez de Mendoza were married Tuesday in New Haven at the home of Mr. Oldakowski’s sister and brother-in-law, Janice M. Scholl and Howard J. Scholl. Richard A. Buckholz, a Connecticut justice of the peace, officiated.

Mr. Oldakowski (left) is 67. From 2002 to 2006 he was the mayor of Key Biscayne, Fla. He is a board member of the YES Institute in Miami, an educational organization focused on gender and sexual orientation issues, and in the 1980s he was a controller of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and received an M.B.A. from Columbia. He is the son of Mary S. Oldakowski of Manchester, Conn., and the late Vincent W. Oldakowski.

 

Mr. Mendoza, also 67, was until 1988 a commodities broker at Merrill Lynch in New York. He graduated from Louisiana State University. He is the son of the late Carola Olavarría Mendoza, who lived in Havana and later in New York, and the late Raul Gonzalez de Mendoza, who lived in Havana.

 

Guest Book

Please connect to the Rivera Family Funeral Home's online guest book to share your kind words, memories, and photos of Luis.