Enrique Pardo Obituary
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In Memory of

Enrique Pardo

March 8, 1926 - July 17, 2014

ENRIQUE PARDO - EULOGY BY ROBERT PARDO I could give this eulogy in the 8 words that my Dad would always say to me during any major event in my life: “ Whatever you do, be happy and enjoy life .” He repeated those words at every graduation (grammar school; high school; college and law school); when I was learning to ski in high school; when he and my Mom would send me backpacking through Europe every summer; when I got my first job as a lawyer; when I purchased my home; when I brought Andrew home; at my wedding last year; and when he asked to talk to me alone two months before he died. My Dad lived a fascinating life...


I could give this eulogy in the 8 words that my Dad would always say to me during any major event in my life: “Whatever you do, be happy and enjoy life.” He repeated those words at every graduation (grammar school; high school; college and law school); when I was learning to ski in high school; when he and my Mom would send me backpacking through Europe every summer; when I got my first job as a lawyer; when I purchased my home; when I brought Andrew home; at my wedding last year; and when he asked to talk to me alone two months before he died.

My Dad lived a fascinating life – the third oldest of 9 children, he and his two oldest brothers were born in Cuba – his mother was from Jamaica and his father was from Spain (working in Cuba as many Spaniards did at the turn of the last century). My grandparents went back to Spain-the homeland- when my father was 7 and he was raised and lived in Spain until he was 21. He helped raise his 6 younger siblings. He learned how to swim and cliff dive into the North Atlantic in Galicia, Spain. At age 21 he and a friend stowed away in the engine room of a cargo ship to America. Half way on the trip they were discovered, arrested and were going to be sent back to Spain. When they arrived in New York, my Dad the cliff diver jumped into the icy Hudson River in November. He was eventually caught and arrested in NY and sent to Ellis Island. Somehow, he ended up being shipped to Cuba.

In Cuba, the fun began for my Dad. My father only had a third grade education but loved to read and was very street smart. In Cuba, he went to the country side and learned the agriculture business working for a farmer, but started a separate business raising his own chickens and selling them on the side. My Dad loved the idea of making money and apparently did well with his chicken business. After the agriculture experience, he was offered a job where he could make even more money – fishing and selling sharks off the shark infested waters of Eastern Cuba. After he made enough cash, he went to Havana…the Big City. He did construction for a while working on a tunnel in Havana. This was limiting for him, so he decided to use his cash to start playing the numbers and placing bets on the race track and eventually started his own “government-sanctioned” gaming company. It was “government sanctioned” since the police, military elite and several judges were on his payroll. With all the extra cash he became a “banker,” lending money at extremely high interest rates…we “in America” call it loan sharking. He was involved with my older brother’s mother at this time and the first Enrique was born. Now by the late 1950’s he had built up quite a reputation, and he was nicknamed in Havana “Al Capone”…being chauffeured by his body guard. He was a tough businessman but loved to eat, drink and dance and enjoyed life. He was an avid reader, especially of history, and had read the Bible three times cover to cover (twice in Spanish and once in English). My Dad also loved to engage in conversations with everyone and anyone. He loved meeting new people and made friends very easily. This “Al Capone” of Havana was the guy you went to if you needed a favor.

He got together with my mom in 1956 and they were married in March, 1957. Coincidently, he had actually met my mom a few times prior to this: for the first time in the late 1940’s when she was 13 and he was learning the agriculture business since the farmer he worked for just happened to be my mom’s uncle. Then she met him for the second time when she was 15 with one of his many, many, many girlfriends. Then they finally met for the third time in 1956 and married a year later.

As tough and ruthless as he was as a businessman, he also was generous and loving to his family, friends and anyone he felt needed help. He became the benefactor to my Mom’s entire family and to those who needed help he was always willing to give money and do favors.

The Castro revolution occurred the year I was born in 1958 and instead of leaving Cuba, my Dad of course figured out how to make money under Castro until 1964. My little brother (the second Enrique) was born in 1962. My Dad also became a counter-revolutionary and started an anti-Castro radio station. He was arrested in 1963. My mom thought he was dead after being taken away for 3 months without a trace. He paid his way out of jail since he still knew all the judges and government officials and when he showed up at our house he told my mom he decided it was time to flee Cuba. The Catholic Church helped him take his money out and we fled to Mexico, then crossed the Rio Grande in Texas and ended up in New Jersey.

He started a construction company in NJ and he focused his life on my Mom, and making sure my little brother, Rick, and I received the best Catholic education possible.

He was a tough Dad, scary at times, forcing me to always excel in school but promised to pay for my education as long as I wanted and as long as I got good grades. He never denied me anything I asked…whether it was for school or skiing or parties with my friends or anything else he thought would bring me happiness. My dad and my mother gave me the most profound gift that parents can give--the feeling deep down inside that I am loved. My father respected, admired, and most importantly always trusted me and my decisions. I take that trust seriously and perhaps the best tribute I can give--the best way for me to keep his spirit alive--is to honor and express all his trust in me and live in a way that would continue his essence and make him proud.

May God Bless my Dad, and as he would say to me I ask each of you, Whatever you do, be happy and enjoy life.

Psalm 23

Reading by Sonia Lee

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He causes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Even when I walk in the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they comfort me.

You set a table before me in the presence of my adversaries; You anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.

May only goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for length of days.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Reading by Sean Stanek

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there.

I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there.

I did not die.

Lessons Learned from Enrique

Tribute by Andrew Raines

So….. soon after Bob and I got together – picture it – LA in the late 80’s – yours-truly in double-breasted suits, complete with shoulder pads and suspenders – you get the idea – it was time for us to meet the parents.

Bob described his Mom to me exactly as she still is – forever young, fun-loving, everyone’s friend – and he described his father as a “tough guy with a construction background and a colorful past”. Despite conjuring up images of Godfather meets Tony Montana, my curiosity was piqued. I had to meet this guy.

The guy I met was one of the nicest men I would ever meet. We would develop a friendship that lasted nearly 26 years. He was there to help when things were wanting, to celebrate when things were abundant and to demonstrate that life had a simple purpose – to be lived completely.

That was my experience of Enrique.

I was really lucky. I got to meet this guy as an adult, and was able to enjoy his friendship without the complex baggage that father/son relationships can sometimes bring. He was a father figure but also a pal. He was a drinking buddy and even more so, a dining companion – we both shared a love of food bordering on obsession and could often eat ourselves into a food coma, dining on the hearty delicacies that he and Maria would prepare. The food wars as I called them – Rick and Maria arguing over ingredients – making everything fun and dramatic – living a novella – the joys of marrying into a Cuban family!

Enrique epitomized all of that. He was a strong individual. Clearly he had gone through numerous difficulties in his life – but he never lost that fighting spirit. Call it stubbornness mixed with a hefty dose of optimism – as he believed that hard work and positive energy could and would win the day. And win the day it did.

He lived life Hard. He pushed the envelope and demanded a great deal of himself and how he related to others. As a Spanish man raised in a small province in Galicia, he refused to be limited by his circumstances and forced his way into a bigger life. He built a series of careers in several countries, and continually strived to improve the lives of his family and loved ones. As tough as he was, he was sentimental and created strong bonds of family and friends. He welcomed me into his family without hesitation or judgment. He treated me with respect.

Rick also had a deeply spiritual side and was an avid reader of theology. He was a man of many contradictions which just made him all the more fun to be around. You never knew where the conversation would go, and sometimes you just fastened your seatbelt and went along for the ride.

As many of you know, I lost my Dad in December, and now we have lost Enrique. Despite the anticipation, one is never ready and never fully prepared. I can only share my experience – when a parent dies, their very essence becomes fused with yours in a new and profound way. Enrique had more spirit than most, so there’s a lot of energy to go around. My advice – let’s all allow ourselves to breathe in some of his vitality and spirit – and make our lives as big as they can be.

It would make him proud.

Andrew H. Raines, Son-in-Law

July 26, 2014



Reading by Robert Pardo

A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy 4:6-8


I am already being poured out like a libation,

and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have competed well;

I have finished the race;

I have kept the faith.

From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,

which the Lord, the just judge,

will award to me on that day, and not only to me,

but to all who have longed for his appearance.

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"My dearest Enrique, you were so very special to me… Thank you for your grandson Esteban, he looks and acts just like you; he is loving, kind and humorous! ..." Ibis Ortiz (Reno, NV)

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