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JUANA GAMERO DE COCA

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MIDDLEBURY — Juana Gamero de Coca, 57, of Middlebury, died peacefully in her sleep on Oct. 6, 2017. She was Associate Professor of Spanish at Middlebury College, where she had been on the faculty since 2004. She was the daughter of German Gamero de Uña and Maria del Carmen de Coca Alonso, both deceased, of Alburquerque (Badajoz), Spain.

Juana grew up in Alburquerque, in the Extremadura region of Spain, where her father raised the pigs that produce the region’s world-famous hams, their flavor imparted by the acorns of the oak trees (quercus) that give Alburquerque its name. As a child and teenager, Juana attended school in Valladolid (Castilla y León), the home of her mother’s family. Later, she was a student of psychology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. A young woman living in Spain’s capital city during the late 1970s and early 1980s, she experienced first-hand that period of intense and liberating change for her country. It affected her deeply.

In 1985, Juana traveled to Washington, D.C., to work, and decided to stay in the United States. She started a family in this country and began a new career as an academic. Completing her B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh, her M.A. at New Mexico State University, and her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in 2004 she accepted a faculty position in Spanish at Middlebury College, where she later also served as Director of European Studies.

Her research interests included 20th and 21st Century Spanish Literature and Culture, with a focus on gender. She published, in addition to many articles, three books: “Nación y Género en la Invención de Extremadura: Soñando Fronteras de Cielo y Barro” (Mirabel, 2005), “La Mirada Monstruosa de la Memoria” (Libertarias, 2009), and “Sexualidad, Violencia y Cultura” (Desde Abajo, 2013).

With her distinctive fashion sense and effusive Mediterranean personality, Juana stood out among native Vermonters; but she found a home in Middlebury and was beloved by her students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends here. She was especially proud of her daughters Carmen Maria Fleming and Ana Isabel Fleming, both graduates of Middlebury College (2010 and 2017, respectively) and now residents of New York City.

She remained close to her former husband David Fleming of Northampton, Mass. She is survived as well by her aunt Dioni Velasco Alonso, her siblings Francisca Gamero de Coca, German Gamero de Coca, and Maria del Carmen Gamero de Coca, and their spouses. Even from far away, Juana had a special bond with her many nephews and nieces in Spain. The Fleming family of Raleigh, N.C., also mourn her deeply. She left her mark wherever she went.

Juana’s partner Ricardo Chávez Castañeda of Mexico City, an author and Spanish instructor at Middlebury College, provides these words in her honor:

Juana nació en un pueblo construido en las laderas de una montaña — Alburquerque — en cuya cima había castillo y murallas. Ella no necesito de ningún cuento para ser la guerrera que combatía los dragones de la injusticia, para convertirse en el hada ante cuyos poderes mágicos el mundo cambiaba, la reina madre que crió a otras dos mujeres dignas de un reino.

Ella sola se bastó para hacer de su vida una historia fantástica. Y nosotros, quienes tuvimos la suerte de conocerla, formamos parte de alguno de los capítulos fabulosos  de su existencia. Hoy el bello cuento se termina y de pronto nos encontramos en la aridez y delación del mundo real, y sin embargo nos tenemos a nosotros mismos para contarnos y recontarnos la historia de la mujer que fue guerrera hada reina diosa.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Juana will be held at Mead Chapel, on the campus of Middlebury College, on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 2:00 pm. All are welcome to attend and encouraged to bring brightly-colored flowers to help decorate the Chapel.◊

Submitting an obituary

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Then include a paragraph or two about where the person went to school and what they did for work; where they lived, who they married and when.

Add a sentence or two about what made the person special to family and friends, including hobbies, avocations or other telling details about their life.

He/She is survived by spouse's name; children named individually (and their spouses and towns of residence, if appropriate); siblings named individually; number of grandchildren, parents or other immediate family members.

He/She was predeceased by names of immediate family members.

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