Marcia Ramirez Aguirre was born on March 12, 1931, in a small banana plantation called Finca Éskimo in the jungles of Guatemala, along the border with Honduras, to Brigido Ramirez Elias and Maria Trinidad Aguirre. Marcia played a hard-won chess game with death for more than a year and finally, on March 21, 2022, not long after her 91st birthday, she opted for a rapid resignation, perhaps a truce in the name of peace, at the Brian Center Southpoint in Durham, North Carolina. Her youngest daughter, Silvia Andrade, was the fearless knight by her side, ever present, even in the hardest of times, in the game of the century that her mother played.
Marcia spent her childhood years living in different banana plantations, including Éskimo, Cinchado and Mesetas where she completed seven years of schooling. She worked for 15 years at United Fruit Company. The United Fruit paid laborers, like Marcia and many of her family members who lived and worked on the finca, to produce bananas and export them globally, including to the United States. While this was Marcia’s beginning, the banana plantations were certainly not her end – destiny had more planned for her. Perhaps she also played a part in shaping it.
She moved to Guatemala City with her children in the 1980s during the height of Guatemala’s 36 years of armed conflict – one of the longest, bloodiest conflicts in 20th-century Latin America. Ever the entrepreneur she worked hard alongside her children and one granddaughter, to scrape together a living and find a path out of poverty as a single mom. In 1983, when she was 52 years old, she emigrated by foot, bus, train and automobile to the United States with her children and grandchild. They made the 3,146-mile trip guided by her youngest daughter through mountains, deserts and winding paths until they reached El Norte.
In the United States she lived and worked in Florida and Pennsylvania before settling in Sanford, North Carolina, home of many family members, for more than thirty years. She worked at Tyson Foods Inc. and Corey Textiles for many years until a work accident shattered her right ankle and affected her ability to stand up for long periods of time. This did not hold her back, very few things did. She launched her own business and began driving her station wagon to North Carolina flea markets selling music she loved and other products to different vendors. Life was good and she enjoyed her freedom in this new world – it was a life she dreamed of for so long, to live her own choices and work for herself.
As more family members moved to North Carolina, she hung her heart in Sanford, her home, and committed to always being physically close to her family. Close, but independent until the end. After many years of running her own business and various car accidents (she was not a fan of red lights), she decided to give up the traveling saleswoman life. She took up baking, knitting, crossword puzzles and frequented The Enrichment Center after her granddaughter nudged her to meet other people her age. She enjoyed long walks with her granddaughter and her grand dog on Sundays, fried plantains with fresh cheese and hot Nescafe, going out for Chinese food, and beating everyone, especially her daughter, at Dominoes.
Marcia was an avid storyteller and was happiest when she was telling the stories of las fincas and watching telenovelas with many subplots with family. Her secret to a long life was to not have vices, enjoy the present, eat good food, don’t frown too much, keep good company, and moisturize often. Although she loved to travel and to see the world, she never got a chance to do it for pleasure. Her granddaughter sent her many postcards, which she kept on her fridge and waited for her return to hear the stories.
Marcia is survived by her six children, Neftali, Vilma and Edgar Ramirez, Silvia and Sergio Andrade, and Hugo Paíz. She has 19 grandchildren, 10 siblings, 15 great-grandchildren, two large German Shepherd grand dogs, and many friends and extended family – too many to list here, but she loved them all. Marcia was preceded in death by her parents. Her siblings, from eldest to youngest, include Alonso, Marta, Mariana, Obidio, Miguel, Salvador, Oscar, Odelia, and two step siblings: Zoila Aceituno and Gonzalo Aceituno.
A memorial was held on Saturday, March 26, 2022 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at Miller-Boles Funeral Home, 1150 Fire Tower Rd, Sanford, North Carolina 27330. The recorded of the memorial ceremony is available. Her published obit is here, written by her granddaughter, Marcia Carolina Andrade.