Marcelina Rodriguez was a reserved and unassuming woman, who took pleasure in the simple things in life: her family and her culture. She was never happier than when surrounded by her family, and was very proud of her six children, fourteen grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Marcelina leaves behind a family that is nourished by its Puerto Rican culture, and eager to make a positive difference in the community she had the courage to adopt.
Marcelina Rodriguez was born on April 26, 1937, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Everyone knew her as Ana Olga. She came from humble beginnings, and lived with her mother, Elisa Rodriguez, in the poor barrio known as “El Mangle.”
Growing up, Ana Olga and her mother lived in Santurce, Puerto Rico. This was a swampy area on the outskirts of the San Juan Bay. The houses were built of wood and zinc, and were perched on stilts that protected them from the ebb and flow of the tide. The lower streets and walkways would often flood, so that movement was only possible by way of elevated planks. The living conditions – crowded and without privacy – gave rise to a close-knit community and a culture focused on survival. The community came together for events such as the killing of a pig for holidays, and danced to music played on improvised instruments. As a result of these childhood experiences, Ana Olga grew up with an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures: family, food, music, and dance.
Ana Olga’s educational opportunities, like those of her peers in Santurce, were very limited. She completed only four years of formal education, and was soon helping her mother with domestic chores full-time. Life was difficult, with Ana Olga and her mother barely earning a living as domestics in the houses of government officials and the wealthy elite.
Ana Olga married the love of her life, Eusebio Caceres, in 1952, when she was fifteen years old. The newlyweds recognized that opportunities were limited in colonial Puerto Rico, and set out to pursue the American dream in 1954. They first alighted in New York, but even a brief stay in the Big Apple was enough to make them realize that it was no place to raise a family. With their first child, Teresa, in tow and Anthony on the way, Ana Olga and Eusebio moved to Milwaukee, where manufacturing jobs that could support a family were available. Ana Olga didn’t know a soul in Milwaukee, but the call of adventure and the pursuit of opportunity allowed her to obediently follow the instincts of her enterprising husband.
Fortunately, Eusebio managed to land a secure job, and their family life stabilized. Ana Olga set out to make a home for her family, which soon grew to include new members Manuel, Elizabeth, Eusebio Jr., and Jose. Ana Olga and Eusebio enjoyed taking their family on outings, and made frequent trips to area attractions, picnicked at lakes and parks, and even made trips to Chicago. There were also many gatherings of family and friends, which helped to keep the Puerto Rican culture alive for the sometimes homesick immigrants. At these gatherings, arroz con gandules and pasteles were always available, cocuito and pitorro filled the glasses, and contemporary and folk Spanish music drifted through the air.
For most of her life, Ana Olga was a homemaker and she was a wonderful cook. She was famed in the community for her arroz con dulce, a rice and coconut dessert, and her children always looked forward to her arroz con leche. She loved celebrating the Christmas holidays, and made birthdays special for her children.
In her free time, Ana Olga enjoyed dancing, listening to singer Celia Cruz, and watching the Spanish channel Telemundo to keep up with the Spanish news. She also enjoyed taking care of her pet parakeet, Petie.
Quiet, humble, and kindhearted, Marcelina “Ana Olga” Rodriguez was a devoted mother, a loving grandmother, and a loyal friend. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many friends and family members.
Marcelina “Ana Olga” Rodriguez died on December 13, 2012, at the age of 75. Marcelina’s family includes her children, Teresita (Leighton) Anding, Anthony (Maritza) Caceres, the late Manuel De La Torres, Elizabeth (Henry) Caceres, the late Eusebio Caceres, Jr., and Jose (Christy) Ojeda; her former husband, Eusebio Caceres, Sr.; 14 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be at the Funeral Home on Tuesday, December 18, from 4 p.m. until the time of Funeral Services at 7 p.m. Entombment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. The family has been served by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes. Please visit Marcelina’s personal memory page at www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com, where you can learn more about her life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.
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