All who knew Nelida Tirado would agree that there was no one who met her and left unchanged. Blessed with the gift of hospitality, an understanding heart, and unending love for others, she was a gift to those too numerous to count.
With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, numerous young men and women joined the ranks in the military in response to our declaration of war on December 8th, and the citizens of Puerto Rico were no different. It was while deeply entrenched in WWII that a young couple from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, was blessed with the birth of a baby girl on December 22, 1942. Nelida was the oldest of eight children born to her parents, Benita Cruz and Nicasio Cruz-Gomez, and she was raised alongside her siblings, Nicasio Jr., Carmen, Jose, Solidad, Mary, Rueben, and Milagro.
While still a young girl, Nelida, or Nellie, moved with her family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the fifties, which is where she remained for the rest of her life. They initially lived on the East Side before settling on Milwaukee’s South Side.
A woman who was beautiful on the inside and out, it comes as no surprise that Nellie caught the attention of a young man named Luis Tirado. After falling deeply in love, the sweethearts were married. A short time later, the couple welcomed their son, Louis, into their hearts and home when Nellie was in her early twenties. He was closely followed by his seven siblings including Miguel, Elizabeth, Ediberto, Margarita, Angel, Nelson, and Daniel. Raising a large family requires a mother to learn her way around the kitchen, and Nellie mastered the art of cooking. In fact, cooking was her passion, and she was continually welcoming others into her home. Of course no one ever left her home hungry!
It was this passion that brought Nellie to the United Community Center’s “Café El Sol” in the mid-eighties where she became the head chef. This enabled Nellie to share her love and talent for cooking with the entire Milwaukee community, and it didn’t take long for people to head to the café to experience Nellie’s signature touch. Throughout her more than 20 years at Café El Sol, she was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and on Fox 6 News where she shared several of her signature Puerto Rican recipes. Upon her retirement from Café El Sol, the kitchen was named in her honor.
In her free time, Nellie enjoyed pursuing her many interests. She loved playing bingo with her husband in addition to cards with her sisters. Nellie also enjoyed dancing both the salsa and merengue.
With a zest for life that was contagious to those around her, Nelida Tirado inspired love, kindness, and generosity. Although she will be dearly missed, her family finds comfort in knowing that she is alive with Christ. Nellie leaves behind a treasure trove of memories and recipes to be sure, but it will be her foundation of unconditional love that will be her lasting legacy.
Nelida Tirado died on October 4, 2013. Nellie’s family includes her husband, Luis Tirado; children, Louis (Mary), Miguel, Elizabeth (Paul) Verkuilen, Ediberto (Maria), Margarita, Angel, Nelson (Jen), and Daniel Tirado; grandchildren, Eric, Nelly, Belinda, Nicole, Joshua, Margarita, Gustavo (Danielle), Miguel Jr., Mari, Angela, Miranda, and Veronica; 6 great-grandchildren; 3 brothers, 3 sisters; and other relatives and friends. Visitation on Tuesday, October 8, at the Funeral Home from 10:00 a.m. until time of the Funeral Service at 11:30 a.m. Interment to follow at Forest Home Cemetery. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory.