Aug. 22, 1930 – Dec. 8, 2017
Amelida Ortiz, prominent in Buffalo’s Hispanic community, died Dec. 8 in the hospice unit at Buffalo General Medical Center. She was 87.
Born in Limani, Adjuntas, in the mountains of Puerto Rico, the former Amelida Figueroa was the youngest of 14 children. After completing third grade, she went to work as a housekeeper and cook for the local superintendent of schools and his wife, who was a teacher, and they gave her lessons between her tasks.
She married Herminio Ortiz in 1948 and they came to Buffalo in the early 1950s, working on farms and in factories before opening a corner store on the East Side.
After her husband died in 1965, she encouraged her four children to go to college, welcoming them to bring friends home for traditional meals in her duck-themed kitchen. They all went on to become professionals. Her grandchildren did, as well.
Mrs. Ortiz was a member of the Ellicott District Democratic Committee for more than 15 years, raising funds, circulating petitions, helping to get voters to the polls and hosting dinners for political groups in her home. She is recognized on a garita, a guardian obelisk at Niagara and Jersey streets, for her leadership.
She appears on another garita near Holy Cross Catholic Church for her leadership there and in the former Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. She was a member of Hijas de Maria and led confirmation classes, adult Bible study, the Women’s Good Deed Network and novenas. She sang in the choir and at one time served as choir director.
She also was one of a group of as many as 10 church women who donned pink satin Bison jackets and visited the sick and housebound on the West Side to pray the rosary and offer novenas.
Survivors include two daughters, Nidia Diaz and Nancy; 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Dec. 14 in Holy Cross Church, 345 Seventh St.