Teresita del Niño de Jesus Camila Otegui was born at home in Cardenas, Cuba on the 18th of July, 1940 to loving parents Adolfo Daniel Otegui and Petrona Anastasia Otegui. She was preceded in death by her parents and all three siblings: Older brothers Jose Luis and Rafael Otegui, and younger sister Maria del Carmen Gonzalez.
Tere and her family lived and thrived in Cuba, enjoying the beaches, the culture, and a successful family hardware business. Tere met and married her first husband, Frank Aurelio Gomez in 1961 in Varadero Beach, Cuba. Shortly after they wed, Fidel Castro became dictator and confiscated all of the family’s assets. Tere and her new husband took separate routes to leave Cuba, ultimately reuniting in Boston, Massachusetts, where all five of her children were born: Frank A. Gomez, Jr., Francisco Daniel Gomez, Francisco Xavier Gomez, Francisco Alexander Gomez, and Frances Teresita Gomez (Lutz). The family stayed in the northeast until 1974, when Tere and her five children relocated to Huntington Beach, CA.
As a single mother of five, Tere also cared for her parents, Daniel and Petrona. She filled her house with food, love, laughter, and music - juggling the activities of five busy kids, two parents, and full-time work as a medical assistant. She and her children were very active at St. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, CA, where she met Joseph M. Benza. Tere and Joe were married for 13 years beginning in 1984 and ending with his passing in 1997.
Tere took great pride in her Cuban roots, always sharing the most engaging stories that brought her time growing up in Cuba to life to all those around her. She kept her Cuban traditions alive through her cooking, dancing, singing, family gatherings, visiting the beach, and playing the acoustic guitar. Tere was equally proud of her new country - The United States, and was delighted to become a U.S. citizen. Over the years she demonstrated an admirable ability to make the best of any situation, see the best in people and be optimistic even in the most challenging times. She often credited her unwavering, strong faith and trust in the Lord. She once wrote, “But when I look back and see the great things Our Lord has done for me and my family in the great U.S.A. - a country which I am very proud to be a citizen, I realized that we have never lacked anything. Sometimes we had lots, other times not so much, but I have never gone without HIS protection!”
Upon formal retirement, Tere moved into a wonderful active senior community called Huntington Westminster in 2001. Remarkably, this was the first time Tere had ever lived by herself! In this wonderful community she established a great many friendships and joined numerous activities that filled her life with joy. It was here she met Johnny Dileno, with whom she would enjoy a courtship for the last ten years of her life. She and Johnny loved where they lived, and her kids would joke that they were the “prom king and prom queen” of their complex. They both appreciated the beautiful landscaped grounds and made the most of their activities within their community, as well as visiting family that lived nearby. Tere would sit on her patio listening to birds singing, enjoying the weather and the tranquility.
Above all else, Tere found the most joy in her family and relished her role as a mother and “Grammy”. Tere leaves her loving imprint on 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. She had unlimited patience and would sit and play with her grandkids for extended hours, creating the most meaningful and lasting bonds. She was never rushed and always took the time to listen - really listen - to those around her. She was deeply loyal and kind, and would brighten up any room with her smile and laughter. She truly celebrated the success and happiness of others.
We will mourn her passing and will miss her profoundly, for she exemplified the best in all of us. The Lord has called her home, where she will reunite with her loving parents and siblings - enjoying the beaches and perfect weather of Heaven.
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