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Famous Puerto Ricans

R - Z

Rincón de Gautier, Felisa

(1897--1994), the first woman in history to be elected mayor of a capital city in all the Americas, was born on January 9, 1897 in Ceiba. She assisted Luis Muñoz Marín in forming the Popular Democratic Party in the 1930s, but was best known for being the first woman mayor of San Juan (1946-1969). Her weekly open-houses at her official residence and such gestures as flying snow to San Juan for children's Christmas parties made her enormously popular. In 1953 the League of American Women gave her its Woman of the Year Award. She died on September 16, 1994 in San Juan.

Rivera, Chita

(Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero)

(1933--), actress and winner of 2 Tony awards, was born on January 23, 1933 in Washington, D.C. of Puerto Rican descent (father). This Puerto Rican/American actress made her Broadway debut in Call Me Madam (1952) and won the Tony Award as best actress for her Broadway role in Kiss of the Spider Woman. "The ageless hoofer" once danced for choreographer George Balanchine with blood-soaked ballet shoes.

Rodríguez, Juan "Chi-chi"

(1937--), golfer, was born on October 23, 1937 in Río Piedras. Rodríguez began as a caddy at age 6, and practiced on tin cans with a homemade golf club fashioned from a branch of a guava tree. It has been said that Puerto Rican golf was born with "Chichi," who came to prominence in the 1960s, when he was one of the top ten in the Professional Golf Circuit. In 1967 he published Chichi's Secrets of Power Golf.

Rodríguez, Pedro

(1953--), inventor, was born in 1953 in Bayamón. Rodriguez is currently the Director of the Test Laboratory in the Engineering Directorate at Marshall Center (NASA) and inventor of a portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis.

He earned a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering in 1976, from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez. Soon after, he was hired by NASA as an engineer.

Rodriguez obtained his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1986, from the University of Alabama. In 1997, he received his doctorate in Civil Engineering, from the University of Mississippi.

Rodriguez was the leader of the Solid Rocket Booster accident investigation team following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in February 2003 and was also the project manager for the Space Launch Initiative program.

Rodríguez de Tío, Lola

(1843--1924), poet, was born on September 14, 1843 in San Germán. This was the first Puerto Rican -born poet to establish a reputation throughout the West Indies. In 1868, inspired by the call for Puerto Rican independence known as the "Grito de Lares," she wrote patriotic lyrics to the existing tune of "La Borinqueña." In 1876 she and her family moved to Mayagüez where she published her first book of poetry, "Mis cantares", which sold 2,500 copies. She is best known for her patriotic poetry about Puerto Rico, as well as Cuba where she lived for many years. She was elected a member of the Cuban Academy of Arts and Letters. Rodríguez de Tio's most famous poem, "Cuba y Puerto Rico Son" (Cuba and Puerto Rico Are), was first published in the collection "Mi Libro de Cuba" (My Book of Cuba) in 1893. She died on November 10, 1924 in La Habana, Cuba. Since her death she has been recognized for her suggestion that Puerto Ricans use the Cuban flag with its colors reversed as the model for their own standard.

Rosa-Nieves, Cesáreo

(1901--1974), poet and educator, was born in Juana Díaz. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with Bachelor's degree in Arts and Education (1927) and a Master's degree in Letters. In 1944, he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Letters from the Autonomous University of Mexico. Among his most known works are "Tres Baladas en Luna de Vísperas" (1954), "Siete Caminos en Luna de Sueños" (1957) and "Los Nísperos del Alba Maduraron" (1959). He died on October 3, 1974 in San Juan.

Sánchez, Luis Rafael

(1936), essayist, playwright, and novelist, was born in Humacao. He was the Puerto Rican writer with the greatest International reputation in the second half of the 20th century. Considered to be the greatest Puerto Rican playwright of modern times.

Stahl, Agustín

(1842--1917), doctor and scientist, was born on January 21, 1842 in Aguadilla. He studied with great enthusiasm Puerto Rico's flora and fauna. He shared information with the Natural History Museum of Germany, and with other important scientific centers. Some of his literature are: "Los Indios Borinqueños", (Prehistoria); "Estudios sobre la Flora de P.R."; "Las Talamifloras"; "Las Leguminosas"; "Las Calcifloras"; "Las Rubiasas"; "Las Gamopetalos"; "Fundación de Bayamón"; "Fundación de Aguadilla"; "Estudios sobre las enfermedades de la caña"; "Estudios sobre la enfermedad de Federico III de Alemania"; and "La fecundidad de la mujer en Puerto Rico". He died on July 12, 1917 in Bayamón.

Tapía y Rivera, Alejandro

  (1826--1882), poet, playwright and journalist, was born on November 12, 1826 in San Juan. Today, Tapía is considered the father of Puerto Rican literature. His memories, "Mis memorias," first published in 1927, many years after his death. He died on July 19, 1882 in San Juan.

Tavarez, Manuel Gregorio

(1843--1883), composer, was born on November 28, 1843 in San Juan. Tavarez is one of the best known danza composers and considered the "Father of the Puerto Rican Danzas." He died on July 1, 1883 at age 39 in Ponce.

Torres, Edwin

(1931--), jurist and novelist, was born to Puerto Rican immigrants in a New York tenement. After attending Brooklyn College he was eventually appointed to the New York Supreme Court, where he made many tough decisions. His most celebrated case was in 1991 - -the Brian Watkins case- in which a young tourist from Utah was murdered on a New York subway platform. He also wrote such novels as "Carlito's Way, Q & A," and "After Hours."

Zeno Gandía, Manuel

(1885--1930), writer, was born on January 10, 1885 in Arecibo. One of Puerto Rico's outstanding novelists, Zeno Gandía is known today primarily for the novel "La Charcha" (The Pond), first published in 1894. His major works were published in a collection called "Crónicas de un mundo enfermo" (Chronicles of a Sick World). He died in 1930 in Arecibo.

Did You Know?

Although Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States classified as a commonwealth, many Puerto Ricans consider it to be a country in and of itself.