Members of Miami's legal community – including faculty and staff from the University of Miami School of Law – gathered Friday to bid farewell to Georgina Rivera de Alfonsin, the 86-year-old mother of Georgina A. Angones, the law school's Assistant Dean for Alumni and Development. Mrs. Alfonsin died on Wednesday.
Her passing followed by seven weeks that of her daughter Lourdes Alfonsin-Ruiz, a 1992 graduate of Miami Law and Dean Angones's younger sister. She was 54 and had served as assistant city attorney in Hallandale Beach and Coral Gables.
The memorial mass for Mrs. Alfonsin was held at the Epiphany Catholic Church, near the UM campus. Father Mark Reeves, who described himself as a friend of the family, said she had been a "remarkable woman" who was "among the last of a dying breed." He said that, as a Spaniard, she was "strong-willed and independent," and had made "tremendous sacrifices" to bring her family to the United States from Cuba so that they could grow up "in a country where they could be free."
At one point, to make ends meet, Mrs. Alfonsin worked in Palm Beach as a seamstress for the king of Saudi Arabia. Mrs. Alfonsin's husband of 59 years, Ramon Alfonsin, died on Jan. 1, 2010.
"When one finds a valiant woman, her value if far beyond pearls," Mrs. Alfonsin's granddaughter, Katherine Ruiz Alfonsin, quoted from the Book of Proverbs. "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in counsel, and on her tongue is kindly counsel."
When her turn came to speak, Dean Angones described her mother as "a woman of action." With a gentle touch of humor, Dean Angones added, "She always wanted to have her way, and she did until the end." Dean Angones went on to thank her family members for their "many acts of kindness over the last few months."
The law school staff and faculty had been informed of Mrs. Alfonsin's death in an e-mail message from Dean Patricia D. White, who said that Mrs. Alfonsin had "passed away peacefully in her home." Dean White asked everyone to "please keep Georgie and her family in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult and sad time."
Dean White was out of town and could not attend the service, but the law school was well represented. Those who were there included Vice Dean Patrick O. Gudridge; Professor Ricardo J. Bascuas; Professor Mary Doyle, former dean of the law school; Michael Goodnight, Associate Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management; Jeannette Hausler, Dean of Students Emerita; Therese Lambert, Director of Student Recruitment; M. Minnette Massey, Professor of Law Emerita; Raquel M. Matas, Associate Dean for Administration and Counsel to the Dean; Jorge L. Pineda, Director of Human Resources; Ileana Porras, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; and Laurence M. Rose, Professor of Law Emeritus and Director of the Litigation Skills Program.
Among other members of the legal community, Federico A. Moreno, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Judge Adalberto José Jordan, JD '87, newly ascended to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, could be seen in animated discussion after the service.
Dean Angones asked that in lieu of flowers, mourners make contributions to the charity of their choice.