It is with great sadness that the family of Jose Ignacio Perez of Gloucester, announces his passing on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, at the age of 96.
A memorial service to celebrate his life was held at the Church of St. Therese, 6262 Main Street, Gloucester, on Oct. 30, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Jose is survived by his son, Barbaro J. Perez, M.D.; daughter-in-law, Dinora, and grandchildren, Khatiana and Lucas of Gloucester. He is also survived by his brother, Orlando Perez of Havana, Cuba, Irma Simpson of Asheville, North Carolina, and Josefina Cardenas of Union City, New Jersey. He leaves behind many nephews, nieces and cousins both in the U.S. and Cuba.
Born and raised in Pedro Betancourt, Cuba, to Cecilio Ignacio and Angela Maria Perez, he grew up on a farm with eight siblings. He attended school until third grade, then he learned carpentry and masonry from his father. He worked at a sugar mill and built his own house.
Jose and his wife Lucia had tremendous perseverance. They lost six children prior to conceiving the only survivor, Barbaro. After 13 years of waiting, he and his family flew to Costa Rica to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. in search of a better future for their son. A few months later, they immigrated to Union City, New Jersey, in 1981, at the age of 58 with next to nothing. He found a job in the maintenance department of a wallpaper factory; at the same time, he developed a small construction business. He learned plumbing, roofing and many other trades. He purchased his own home within five years after arriving in the U.S. His business thrived, and he retired from the factory. He continued to do small construction projects until the age of 86.
He moved to Virginia with his son and family due to health issues in 2009, where he watched his two grandchildren grow up. He loved gardening and being outdoors, as well as playing a mean game of dominoes.
Jose’s story is one of love, courage, and personal reinvention. As an immigrant, he appreciated the liberties we have in the U.S. Thanks to his determination, perseverance, and hard work, he and his family enjoyed the American dream. He was very proud and grateful to live in this great country.