Mercedes Fiorella, aged 76, died on January 11, 2022, at her home in Fort Myers, Florida.
Mercedes Emily Fernandez was born to Armando and Luz Fernandez on January 31, 1945, in The Bronx, New York. As a child, Mercedes lived in New York surrounded by the love of many cousins. She grew up and completed schooling in Norwalk, Connecticut. She was artistic, outgoing, and caring. She attended Brian McMahon High School, and after graduation, she worked as an administrative secretary until she decided to pursue her dream of hairdressing. After graduating from the National Academy Hairdressing, she went to work as a hair stylist at various salons and attended numerous hair shows that she thoroughly enjoyed. She took full advantage of her salon days and indulged in many different hairstyles, always with a big smile on her face.
In 1964, Mercedes married her high school sweetheart, Ronald Fiorella. They shared and bonded over music, dancing, film, the arts, bodybuilding, Sunday pasta dinners, and a love for their children. Immediately after wedding, they moved to Bangor, Maine, where Ron was stationed at Dow Air Force Base. Their first daughter was born in Bangor, Maine. In their second year of marriage, they moved to Puerto Rico, Where Ron was stationed at Ramey Air Force Base. Mercedes fully embraced her new role as an Air Force wife and loved every minute of the Caribbean Ocean and climate. Spanish being her first language made communication easy while living abroad. Being bilingual would later serve her a greater purpose. After Ron’s service completion, they returned to the east coast and built a life in Norwalk, Connecticut, where Ron began his career at Sikorsky in Stratford and would, eventually, leave to continue his career through retirement for Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET) in Norwalk, Connecticut. The family grew to include two children. Their second daughter was born in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Mercedes’ lifelong passions included ceramics, knitting, crocheting, crafting, jarring, and baking. Her mission, however, was to help the homeless, the underprivileged, victims of abuse, and people in need. After her divorce from Ron and her departure from Norwalk, she moved to San Diego, CA where she found a new purpose and became devoted to this cause. She operated extensively as an advocate for women of domestic violence. Her employment included working for the Presbyterian Crisis Center as a Case Manager/Victim’s Advocate, North County Chaplaincy in Encinitas as a Victim’s Case Manager &Victim’s Advocate, and the Chula Vista Police Department as a Family Violence & Victim’s Advocate. If someone needed help, she was there to lend a hand. She served as an interpreter and coordinator for free surgeries for children in Mexico to get aid in the USA. She was a volunteer consultant for E.Y.E. Shelter for Battered Wives and was on the Board of Directors for the Immigration Alliance of San Diego. She is a recipient of The Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, bestowed by the State Bar of California for services rendered to the poor.
She moved to Las Vegas and worked as a bilingual intake specialist and later finished her career as a taxi driver. She had an infectious laugh, loved meeting new people, and absolutely had the gift to gab. She made lifelong friends in Las Vegas and was named godmother to her dear friends’ daughter. She was loved by many.
Her final venture would take Mercedes to Fort Myers where she would devote her time to a group of women known as “The Craftie Ladies.” Mercedes was an extremely creative craft maker with very special gifts to offer. The Crafty Ladies are key crafters for St. John XXIII Church’s annual charity event. Her talents ranged from making floral arrangements, wreaths, and Christmas decorations; all were exceptional. Her contribution was substantial, and she has left a legacy to be proud of. When she wasn’t volunteering with The Craftie Ladies, she was gathering donations of food for anyone in need. She had a generous spirit and was loved and appreciated.
Mercedes is survived by her children: Tina and her husband David Hill; Ronda and her husband John Capeci. In addition, she is survived by her six grandchildren: Ryan, Megan, Fiona, Colby, Andrew, and Emily.
Mercedes’ greatest gift to her family is an amazing legacy of love and charity that will live in their hearts forever.
There will be a celebration of Mercedes’ life at 10:00 a.m., February 18th at St. John’s XXIII Church in Fort Myers, Florida. https://johnxxiii.net/
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Gulf Coast Humane Society