Obituary of Elsie Maldonado
Elsie was born in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico on January 25, 1934, and raised by strong, independent, irreverent women- She grew up poor and often without her mother by her side but surrounded by love and support always. She protected and loved her two younger sisters, Yiya and Aida, and was reared and guided by her loving grandmother "Clara", aunts and her "madrinita" Ana through an often-difficult childhood. Later, Elsie came to her own blossoming into a beautiful young woman, entering local beauty pageants and enjoying the traditional Puerto Rican social scene like attending "La Fiesta Patroneles" and other local festivities. In 1951, while living in Catano, Puerto Rico, Elsie started dating the famous baseball player, Roberto Clemente, the love of her life.
Later in the late 1950's, Elsie decided to leave Puerto Rico and Roberto and followed her mother, Valentina Santana, to New York. She moved to "El Barrio" where, at the time was a bastion of newly arriving “Boricuas" . She loved New York-she loved dancing, she loved the English language and loved the new culture. She soon met her soon to be husband Jose Maldonado who she married in 1960. They then moved to Jersey City, another growing enclave for Puerto Ricans in the 50's and 60's where her sisters, Aida and Yiya and her mother Valentina soon joined her. Elsie became the mother of two young daughters, Michelle, and Leila.
Sometime in 1963, Elsie decided to attend beauty school, "Hollywood Academy" on 42nd Street where she met Elda and Margie and together, they decided to open "Eldamar Beauty Salon" in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1964. Having no experience in business and knowing very little English, Elsie threw herself into her craft doing hair for a mostly Polish, Irish and Italian clientele. They loved her and she loved them. Soon Elsie was cooking at home "corn beef and cabbage", "cannelloni" and "Polish Kielbasa" and enjoying and thriving in New York. She soon became the sole owner of Eldamars becoming a huge financial success. She claimed the neighborhood as her own, making lasting and enduring customers and friendships. She attended the gym regularly and worked tirelessly at the salon working long hours standing on her feet for most of the day. Elsie was exuberant brimming with excitement and wonderment in her new world in NY. With her daughters often by her side, Elsie attended Broadway plays and American movies regularly and even frequented "The Plaza" in New York for "tea and finger sandwiches". Elsie traveled extensively with her girls too frequently traveling to Canada and to upstate NY where her mother Valentina helped organize concerts also knows as "Las Villas", and, later traveled to Rome, Italy, Portugal, and Aruba as well as going on dozens of luxury cruises with her sister Yiya and girlfriends.
As Elsie got older and after closing the beauty salon in 2005, she devoted herself to her grandchildren, Nicky, and Alessandro. While Elsie lived a mostly healthy and happy life in her later years, the effects of working on her feet for over fifty years took a toll on her. But she often said that she was a "blessed" person and lived a wonderful life with no regrets. Elsie was beautiful in every way, brave and fearless. Elsie passed away on January 26, 2023, a day after her 89th birthday.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Elsie's name to Saint Jude's Children's Hospital by clicking on the Donations link on the left of this page.
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Memorial Visitation at Funeral Home
In Loving Memory
1934 - 2023
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