Rafael Agustin de Echeandia
Rafael Agustin de Echeandia, a resident of New Bern North Carolina since 2011, died on Tuesday September 13, 2022 at home. He was born on January 9, 1934 in Arecibo Puerto Rico to the late Augustine and Margarita de Echeandia.
He was predeceased by his brother Agustin Echeandia and sister Zaida McClure. Rafael is survived by his wife of 53 years, Linda Diane of New Bern, North Carolina; two children, son Christopher de Echeandia of Bradenton, Florida, daughter Lauren and Erik Perley and their children Hayes and Noah, of Killingworth, Connecticut. He is also survived by his beloved sister-in-law Katy Echeandia and his niece Sorya Antle of Miami, Florida and nephew Augito Echeandia of Kansas. He is also survived by his 3 nephews, Curtis, Danny, Brian McClure. Despite being raised in NYC, Rafael cared deeply about his family in Puerto Rico and was able to reestablish connections later in life.
Rafael was born in Puerto Rico, but was raised in St. Johnland home for children in Kings Park Long Island along with his brother and sister, where he met lifelong friends including Kenneth Jones, King Peddler and Doris Gutierrez, among many others. He began his college education at the age of 16 at City College of New York in Manhattan. After earning his BS degree in Geology, he joined the Navy and served on the Battleship USS Iowa as a Chaplain’s Yeoman during the Korean War until his honorable discharge in 1956. Rafael was a genuine workaholic, holding myriad positions and jobs throughout his long life including a flower shop delivery boy in NYC; building nuclear missile silos in Colorado and South Dakota in the 1960s; worked as a Mechanical Engineer for AMF, Reynolds Metals, Kraft Foods (to name a few). After he retired in 1999, he volunteered with FEMA as an assessor for the destruction caused by Hurricane Henry in Houston, TX. He also was a volunteer installing medical alert systems at Carolina East Hospital in New Bern, NC.
His favorite hobby was to work on and admire his two vintage British cars, a 1970 Jaguar XKE convertible, and a 1952 MG-TD. He made lots of friends through owning these automobiles and enjoyed imagining the beautiful restorations that were possible. Rafael learned about the joys of sailing from his father-in-law Charlie Wahab, and later through his dear friend, Wayne Treffeison, eventually owning his own vessel which he precariously sailed through the Pamlico Sound.
Rafael was larger than life, his shoes cannot be filled. He will be missed by many. May he rest in peace.
A Celebration of Rafael's Life will be held at 2:00 pm on Thursday September 22, 2022 at the First Presbyterian Church in New Bern.