Gloria Mercedes Samaniego Vargos y Ramos Anthony, 81, born in La Chorrera, Panama, on March 25, 1935, to Maria Mercedes Vargas y Ramos and Isidorio Samaniego Salcedo, passed away from natural causes on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at Kings Grant House in Virginia Beach.
She is survived by her three sons and daughters-in-law; Randy (Becky) of Chesapeake, Eric (Karla) of Northern Virginia and Shawn (Tracey) of Virginia Beach; ‘adopted’ son, Sean (Christine) of Virginia Beach; and six grandchildren, three ‘adopted’ grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Gloria was leading a relatively uneventful young life in Panama until she met a dashing young U.S. Army tech sergeant stationed in Panama. After their marriage, she gave birth to her first son. Unfortunately, during the student riots in Panama City, she and her firstborn were evacuated to the U.S. with other American dependents in 1963. This was quite the culture change, as her first meeting with her in-laws was in the depth of winter in the knee-deep snows of Brooklyn, Iowa.
Assuming the mantle of stoic Army wife, her next two sons were born in California while their father was deployed overseas. During her husband’s one-year tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968, she took up writing poetry to cope with the absence and fear of her spouse’s tour. This hobby and eventual convocation blossomed into a compilation of her poetry that was published as a book of poetry in 1974. ‘Echoes in a Shell’ reflected the trials and tribulations of a young mother of three boys with a husband who was fully in harm’s way in a foreign country. Her publication has been copyrighted and registered in the Library of Congress.
After a tour of duty in Hawaii post-Vietnam, her husband’s next duty station was the White House Communications Agency, where she reveled in the glamour and glitz of being a military spouse stationed at the White House. During their tour of duty, she became actively involved in politics, supporting the presidential run of Benjamin Fernandez, befriending the esteemed Virginia Senator John Warner and his wife at the time, Elizabeth Taylor, and becoming a confidant of the princess of Thailand.
After her husband’s retirement from the military, she continued her passion for poetry, winning numerous accolades for her poetry and paintings. Looking for a new output for her creative talents, she realized her knack for identifying and rehabilitating antique furniture. With the support of her husband and his wood working skills, she created her own business named Victorian Upholstery and spent the next 20 years buying, renovating and selling antique furniture in the Northern Virginia area.
We will say our final goodbyes to Gloria at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 2, at Rosewood-Kellum Funeral Home, Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach. There will be a private viewing from 1 to 2 p.m. prior to the service. Gloria’s final resting place will be in Quantico National Cemetery, where she will forever join her ‘prince.’
In lieu of flowers, please donate in her name to the Army Relief Fund.
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