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The Villages
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dagoberto Zapatero

Dagoberto Zapatero
Dagoberto Zapatero

Dagoberto Zapatero’s had many significant accomplishments, including being a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and cook for anyone lucky enough to share a table with him. Papi, as we called him, died on December 29, at The Villages Hospital, in Florida.  He was 86 years old and died from complications of a surgical procedure. When not in the kitchen, you’d often find him in his garden, growing bananas, papayas, oranges, lemons, plums, apples, pears, and countless other vegetables and flowers to keep him entertained and to share with friends in the form of fresh fruits or preserves.  His love of gardening kept him happy, and earned the Zapateros accolades from the Villages Garden Club on two occasions.  Their home was also known for their Christmas lights display until his wife, Maria, passed in 2010. Dagoberto was born on his family farm in Victoria de las Tunas, in Cuba, in 1935 to Sergio and Zoila Zapatero.  He earned an associate’s degree in accounting and married his love, Maria, in 1960.  The couple had two boys, Dagoberto and Jose.  In 1966, Papi’s intense desire for freedom and economic opportunity propelled him to abandon Cuba and immigrate to the United States.  Our family settled in the town of Freeport on Long Island.  Dad loved America and took pride in becoming a naturalized citizen.  Two days after arriving in America, he was employed as a baker at Holiday Bakery.  A position he held for about ten years before he rode the coattails of his entrepreneurial wife and launched a successful career in retail until the couple retired to The Villages in 2002.  They realized their American dream The Zapatero’s strong work ethic and belief in education were instilled in their family, even as they struggled to learn English.  Dagoberto was very proud of his sons and grandchildren telling as much to anyone who would listen.  Dag is a dentist in Virginia Beach, Virginia, while his other son, Jose, is a medical doctor and the CMO of a hospital system in Alexandria, LA.  Papi beamed during the wedding of his granddaughter Caroline and her husband, Oliver Silzer.  His grandson Zack is graduating from medical school at The University of Pennsylvania and will specialize in reconstructive plastic surgery.  While these are beautiful accomplishments, Papi’s greatest gift to his children and grandchildren the blessing of knowing that you were unconditionally loved.

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