Elisa “La Gallega” Rocubert Cardenas, 83, passed away on March 14, 2020. She was born on November 2, 1936 in Pinar del Río, Cuba, the eighth of ten siblings. She moved to Havana when she was fifteen, and in 1960 arrived in Miami. She later moved to Hartford, CT, where she married Fernando Cardenas in 1963. Ten years later they relocated to St. Petersburg, FL, where they raised three children and ran Fernando’s Jewelers, a mainstay of the Tyrone Gardens Shopping Center for 25 years. The business was popular not only for jewelry repair but also as a place where customers could discuss current events with the owners and receive thoughtful advice.
When Elisa earned her first paycheck at the age of fifteen, she spent almost the whole of it to buy a bicycle for her little brother, Vere. This generosity was typical of her throughout her life. She was a vocal advocate for Cuban refugees, most notably in the months preceding the Mariel boatlift of 1980, when she and other local Cubans took to the streets of St. Petersburg to call attention to the 10,000 Cubans who’d crowded into the Peruvian embassy in Havana to seek asylum. She again became active during the balsero crisis of 1994.
Elisa was known to her family as a gifted cook, not only of her native papas rellenas and croquetas, but also of ceviche, lomo saltado, and other dishes of her husband’s homeland, Peru. According to her grandchildren, her meatballs were the best in the world. Her favorite son-in-law could always count on a mouthwatering pot of pigs’ feet every time he came to visit.
Always resourceful, Elisa taught herself whatever new skill necessity required, from sewing clothes to restringing pearls to teaching family members how to drive. She was also an expert gardener, with an uncanny ability to nurture every plant she encountered. She had a special fondness for the rosebushes in West Hartford’s Elizabeth Park.
Elisa was predeceased by six siblings and her husband Fernando. She is survived by three siblings (Ricardo, Lela, Veremundo), her three children (Alexander Cardenas, Mary Ann Cardenas, Yvonne Mogodiri and her husband Lesego), six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
We will remember La Gallega for her love, her selfless generosity, and her fierce spirit.
Due to current health concerns in our community, the family is postponing services at this time. This page will be updated to reflect the date of service once it is scheduled.