Marta Juantorena

Obituary of Marta Juantorena

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Marta Juantorena passed away on August 1, 2023 of natural causes. She was 91 years old. Marta was born on September 12, 1931 in San Nicolas de Bari, Cuba, the fourth child of Julian Martinez and Quintana Pimienta. Her siblings included Aramis Martinez, Juana Pichardo, Gladys Perez and Roberto Martinez. She loved children and teaching and became a teacher in Havana after graduating from The Normal School for Teachers. Marta regaled her children with stories about her adventures as a teacher at a Cuban rural school, they in turn teased her endlessly about being “normal”. In her first job as a teacher, she traveled to school by donkey. Often the donkey would refuse to continue the journey to school, and she had to find someone willing to smack its rear end to resume the journey. In 1953, Marta married Julian Juantorena, an agricultural engineer at the Gomez Mena plant, who specialized in the cultivation of sugarcane. It was said he wooed her with his knowledge of American history and Greek mythology, and 25 pound sacks of sugar. He also taught her how to drive a stick shift jeep, so she no longer had to ride a donkey to her teaching job. Marta and Julian’s lives were upended by the Cuban communist revolution and the rise to power of Fidel Castro. While waiting for the opportunity to leave their homeland, Marta gave birth to two children, Jacqueline in 1964 and Jorge in 1966. Jacqueline was considered a particularly special godsend, because she was conceived after 10 years of attempting to bear children. In early 1968, Marta and Julian succeeded in winning permission to leave Cuba for Spain, using the pretext that their family needed to accompany Julian’s father, Felix, on a recuperative trip to Madrid. Once in Spain, the family gained entry into the United States with the sponsorship and support of Marta’s sister, Juana, and her husband, Jose. Marta, Julian and their young children settled in Brooklyn, near her Aunt Rosa (aka Tati). Marta began working as a bilingual public elementary school teacher, while Julian worked in a chemical laboratory (as there were few jobs for agricultural engineers in Brooklyn). Marta attended night school at Long Island University during the 1970s while working as a teacher at PS 321 in Park Slope during the day, eventually earning two masters degrees that allowed her to become a guidance counselor. She was a devoted advocate for children and received numerous awards while at PS 321. Julian developed Alzheimers and passed away in 1987, leaving Marta as a single-parent to Jacqueline and Jorge. Marta was a doting mother to her children, who both excelled in high school and graduated from Cornell University. Marta was a steadfast Catholic and she found comfort in her faith. She was a constant presence at the Spanish mass at Holy Spirit Church in Borough Park. Marta retired from work in 1995. In her retirement years she traveled extensively, especially with her sister Juana and her brother-in-law Jose. She also continued to be active in her church, where she frequently volunteered. Retirement also afforded the opportunity for Marta to care for the next generation. She loved to spend time with her grandchildren, Alan, Edin, Russell, Sara and Julian. Marta was a wonderful presence in the lives of her family and friends and will be deeply missed. She is survived by her daughter Jacqueline Nikovic and her husband Rasim, her son Jorge Juantorena and his wife Deborah; her grandchildren Alan Nikovic, Edin Nikovic, Russell Nikovic, (and their respective wives Adriana, Rita, and Victoria Nikovic), Sara Juantorena and Julian Juantorena; her great-granddaughter Maya Nikovic; her nieces Simara Bianchi, Elsa Phillips, Eileen Medrano, her nephews Aramis Martinez, Hiram Perez, Hernan Perez, Roberto Martinez Jr., Alan Martinez, and Albert Martinez; her cousins and her many friends.


Monday, August 7, 2023
Holy Spirit Catholic Church - Funeral Mass
1712 45th St
Brooklyn, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Pinelawn Memorial Park
2030 Wellwood Avenue
Farmingdale, New York, United States
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Marta Juantorena

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Marta Juantorena

1931 - 2023

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