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Obituary of Rafaela R. Mercado
Rafaela R. Mercado died peacefully at Suncoast Hospice on January 22, 2023, at the age of 101. Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on August 8, 1921, she was the eldest of Jovita (Ruiz) and Candido Rivera's six children.
She grew up in the countryside of Puerto Rico, where her father tended the grounds of a Catholic convent. Rafaela was very close to her parents and had an impassioned relationship with the Catholic faith. She spent her early life attending daily mass and developed a passion for cooking while helping her mother cook for the nuns at the convent.
Rafaela married her beloved husband, Pedro Mercado in 1946, after he returned from the United States Army. She was very proud that her husband, father and brother served in the U.S. military during both WWI and WWII.
Peter and Rafaela relocated to Hackensack, New Jersey in 1952 with their two young children. She was a homemaker and spent her time being a wife and mother. She was a talented seamstress and embroiderer and loved making decorative fabric crafts for her friends and family. Her and her husband moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1998, to be closer to their daughter after Hurricane George. When her husband passed away in 2006, Rafaela spent her days volunteering at the Alhambra Nursing Home where her husband was once cared for. Rafaela was a dedicated homemaker so when she began working outside of the home, she felt useful and needed. Although she enjoyed caring for her husband and children, she became independent for the first time in her life during her time at Alhambra. When she was no longer able to volunteer, she devoted more time to her embroidery work, and writing letters and poems. She enjoyed communicating with family in Puerto Rico through writing letters and collecting ones she would receive in return. In addition to writing, Rafaela would make decorative quilts, duvets, and pillow covers that she would give to friends and family. She also created clothes for dolls that she would donate to local organizations and people in the community. One of her final projects was to design a blanket for the anticipated birth of her third great-grandchild. The blanket was a collection of embroidered fabric crafts she created and saved over the years. Before she passed, she began working with her daughter on writing her memoir.
Her husband, Pedro, her son, Peter, and five younger siblings preceded Rafaela in death. She is survived by her daughter, Aida; grandchildren, Shauntae, Andre, Gabriela; five great-grandchildren and a host of family and friends.
Family and friends will gather on Friday, February 10, 2023 from 2-3pm and are encouraged to stay for the funeral service at 3pm officiated by Fr. Emery Longanga at Anderson McQueen Family Center Tyrone Chapel, 7820 38th Avenue N, St. Petersburg, FL.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Suncoast Hospice Empath Health. https://suncoasthospice.org
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