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Teodoro L. Menocal (Teo)

Died: February 16, 1987

Nina Menocal remembers:

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My brother Teodoro Luis Menocal Johnson (1944-87). In memory for the Yale Class of 1966

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What I most remember about my brother Teo was the sweetness of his smile. He was utterly beautiful and kind. But Teo was not really of this world, and not in this world very long, he died prematurely — he was barely 43.

He grew up in Paradise Cuba, the oldest of five siblings. Teo, our brother Luis, cousins and campesinos would run wild in the farms riding horses and hunting, and in Varadero Beach we would swim, water-ski and fish. I was two years his junior and thus his shadow. Teo was the “heir” as far as my great-grandmother, grandparents, and parents were concerned. But even then, Teo didn’t even notice all the bedlam around him whenever he meandered. Our household and the sun spun around him, but he was ethereal, like a floating light or the Petit Prince.

Teo studied pre-prep at Fay School, Massachusetts. Then came the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the family went into exile in Palm Beach and Mexico City; Choate boarding school, Yale University (member of Fence Club), and Columbia Business School came next.

Teo was the awe and admiration of many a man; he didn’t “pick up” women, they just followed him; whenever he went out jogging he would be back with five, as Rodrigo my brother in law never tired of recounting, as did Victor his best friend. He had moved in with both first in New York and then Miami. He was the source of tremendous love, tenderness and despair among all the women in his life, from his Great Grandmother Mamacita to his wives, sisters and friends, of which there were many.

He had a genuine love of women and a non-threatening graciousness which was part of him. There are a few men with this unusual quality, a rare excellent merit. Teo was bored by the financial world in which he worked, and decided it was all a farce. His personal life was equally dissimilar from the rule. His two marriages ended, one in sadness, and the second in acrimony: the first to the charming Anne of the textile family business, and the second to Walkiria, a high-strung Cuban who worked while he went to Columbia and read history books.

By the time his daughter Emilia was two, Teo was divorced and a free spirit. After our parents died in 1982, Teo went to live in Cancún, Mexico, where he had a scuba-diving business and loved it. He disappeared and reappeared in Zihuatanejo, this time in Mexico’s Pacific coast. There he lived with Maru, and he would rest and read in a hamaca under a hut, listening to the sea. They were happy.

Near the sea and away from pressures and expectations Teo found his life. He died in his sleep in remote Cancún. He remains in the hearts of all who knew him, this gentle soul who was never of earth.

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By Nina Menocal (recipient National Prixe of Journalism (Mexico) and owner of Nina Menoci Gallery, Mexico City)