Berta Jimenez, 98

Feb. 10, 1916 - May 20, 2014
Berta Jimenez, Feb. 10, 1916 - May 20, 2014

Berta Jimenez, who emigrated from Guatemala 25 years ago and saw her children achieve the American dream of success, died at home on Accabonac Road in East Hampton on May 20. She was 98 years old, and had been diagnosed with metastasized bone cancer one month earlier.

Mrs. Jimenez witnessed two world wars and one revolution, welcomed in a century, and, despite having only an elementary education, embraced the computer era, often using Skype to keep in touch with her family. “She was absolutely extraordinary,” said her daughter Marta Nilon of Manhattan.

She was born on Feb. 10, 1916, in El Amraro, a small village in the state of San Marcos, one of 11 children of Jeronimo Jimenez and Segunda Lopez. She received only an elementary education; that was all that was available in her village, she told her children.

In 1936, she married Vicente Tobar. They had 11 children over 25 years, and a small plot of land where they were self-sufficient, growing coffee, cacao, pataste, bananas, cashews, sugar, pineapples, avocados, mangos, corn, beans, potatoes, and aromatic herbs for cooking. She raised hens, pigs, and turkeys; he hunted for meat. They had seven dogs.

When she was 44, her husband died of stomach cancer and she lost their land in a disagreement with her brother. She moved the children to Santa Lucia Cozmalguapa in search of a better life, they said. At the age of 73, she moved to East Hampton to join Ms. Nilon, and helped to bring the other children to this country.

The family said she enjoyed gardening, cooking, animals, music, and her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a great-great grandchild. She was also known to enjoy a good party. “She had a beautiful and lucid mind until the end,” Ms. Nilon said.

Nine of the children survive. They are Tavo Tobar, Conie Tobar, Vicente Tobar, Noe Tobar, and Aide Ruano, all of East Hampton; Berta Barrios, who returned to Guatemala; Juan Tobar of Miami, Fernando Tobar of Queens, and Ms. Nilon, who lives in Manhattan. Two children predeceased her, the eldest, Ramiro, and Rene.

She leaves 27 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Her sisters Luz Jimenez of Guatemala, Clarisa Runge of Indiana, Celedonia Runge of Guatemala, and Margarita Ramirez of Los Angeles also survive.

A wake was held at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on May 23, followed the next day by a funeral Mass at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton. Burial was at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.

Memorial contributions have been suggested to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73123-1718.