04/01/10 — JOSE M. DE VARONA

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Sept. 29, 1923-March 30, 2010

PIKEVILLE -- Dr. José Miguel de Varona, 86, 103 Angel Place in Goldsboro, passed away Tuesday at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

A short prayer service will be held Friday at 4 p.m. at Seymour Funeral Home in Goldsboro. The family will receive friends following the service until 8 p.m., when a memorial service celebrating his life will begin. Graveside services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pikeville Cemetery. Friends and family can meet at Seymour Funeral Home at 10:30 a.m. for the funeral procession.

Dr. de Varona was born on a farm Sept. 29, 1923, in Camagüey, Cuba, one of 12 brothers and sisters. He was the son of Agustín Escipión de Varona and Julia Isabel de Zayas de Varona.

He graduated from the University of Havana School of Medicine in 1951. During the Cuban revolution he actively participated in the 26th of July movement headed by Fidel Castro that fought to oust the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

When Fidel Castro came into power in 1959, Dr. de Varona was appointed to the position of general director of public health for Cuba. He was in charge of all the hospitals, public health clinics and food, drug and beverage control for the nation. He remained in this position until Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist. He resigned his position in protest when he was asked by the Castro regime to indoctrinate and train the militia and his employees in communist ideology.

He returned to work in private practice and in the government tuberculosis hospital, but realized that his future and that of his family was in danger because of his unwillingness to cooperate with the communist government.

He fled Cuba in 1961 with his wife, Dr. Angela Ruiz López de Varona and his six children, and came to the United States seeking freedom and refuge. He worked at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, N.M.

In 1964, he moved to Virginia and worked as the director of the inpatient unit at Southwestern State hospital in Marion, Va.

In 1970, he moved to Goldsboro and worked as the director of the newly-implemented geriatrics unit at Cherry Hospital.

In 1973, he became superintendent of O'Berry Center in Goldsboro and transformed the center from a custodial care facility to a center that provided rehabilitation and education for the mentally handicapped.

In 1978, he resigned from his position at O'Berry Center and returned to work at Cherry Hospital until 1981.

In 1981, he Moved to Sneads Ferry and worked at the Onslow County Mental Health Center in Jacksonville. While there, he began a detox unit and served as director of the Eastern Regional Detox Unit until he retired in 1988.

For 14 more years he worked part-time in private practice and was medical director of the public health center in Trenton. He retired from medical practice in 2002.

Dr. de Varona is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dr. Angela Ruiz Lopez de Varona, M.D.; his children: Hada de Varona Haulsee and husband, Ronald Haulsee, of Winston-Salem, Maria de Varona Hardesty and husband, George Hardesty III, of St. Petersburg, Fla., Maria de los Angeles de Varona of Winston-Salem, Fe de Varona Finch and husband, Warren Finch, of Pikeville, José Guillermo de Varona and wife, Tammy, of Pikeville and Maria Bella de Varona Wise of Princeton; 20 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to Special Olympics of North Carolina.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.seymourfuneralhome.com.


Published in Obituaries on April 1, 2010 1:47 PM