On Friday, March 21 over one hundred people gathered to pay their respects to Bertha Molina de Alanis, bilingual teacher pioneer educational in Chicago’s Pilsen community for over a quarter of a century, and mother of Berta McCanna and Alejandro Luis Molina, PRCC Board Secretary.
Against the backdrop of a large poster collage depicting her over the last 60 years and set off by two books produced by the Molina family of her life on each side of her coffin.
The impromptu program began at about 6:30pm. Bertha, who had suffered over a year and a half from ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was surely present as Alejandro told a short story about the values he and his sister Bertha grew up with as a result of being so loved by their parents.
Alejandro thanked everyone for coming and for their condolences- over 200 messages, emails, texts, voicemails from across the US, Puerto Rico and Mexico were received by the family. Those present included leaders of Chicago’s not-for-profit community such as Barbara Popovic from CAN- TV, Jaime Delgado from the Diabetes Empowerment Center, Linda Hannah, President of the Board of Directors of Youth Connection Charter School as well as Sheila Venson, Executive Director and her leadership staff. José E. López and Militza M. Pagan, Executive Director and Deputy Director of the PRCC were present. Marvin Garcia and Michelle Morales from the Alternative Schools Network were present as was José Luis Rodríguez. Former Puerto Rican political prisoners were present in force: Ricardo Jiménez, Edwin Cortes, and Luis and Félix Rosa. Jan Susler, Oscar Lopez Rivera’s attorney and Clarisa Lopez, his daughter were also present. Dozens of friends and family, including Bertha’s siblings and nieces from Mexico were also present.
A warm and wonderful tribute by Ada Lopez ensued. Ada, one of the many teachers that Bertha mentored, spoke glowingly of her love and respect for Bertha and called her a hero when they were very few heroes and role models for young Mexicans/Latinos in the early 70s. José E. López also paid tribute to Bertha by speaking of her legacy- her love for her community and for social justice that her children and nephews and grandchildren inherited.
On behalf of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center Board of Directors and it’s staff we would like to thank everyone for their support and help through this difficult period.