To say that Edwin Figueroa was an incredible person would be nothing short of an understatement. Everyone who met him would tell you how loving, inspiring, and humble he was, while always bringing an unforgettable sense of humor, respect and passion to everything he did. He embodied those qualities and so many more in his life and the world is lesser for them ever since his passing on May 2nd, 2020 at the age of 55. But in true Edwin spirit, he wouldn’t want us to dwell on the sadness of his loss, but instead, focus on the positivity of his life. I hope these words help you remember him as fondly as I do.
Edwin Figueroa had many passions. He was passionate about his hobbies – he loved fishing, playing a game of dominoes, and dancing to the music of Marc Anthony. He enjoyed watching Mets, Cowboys (which I’ll still never understand) and Duke basketball games. But what was best about Edwin was that he shared these passions with others and would always invite you to enjoy them with him.
Edwin Figueroa always showed up with respect. No matter who he met, he made sure to respect others and their opinions, even when he disagreed with them. His patient and calm demeanor were felt by all, whether it was the students he worked with, his colleagues at Operation Respect, or his friends and family. It didn’t matter who you were and or what you did, Edwin would always show you nothing but kindness and respect for who you were.
Edwin Figueroa had an unforgettable sense of humor. He never took life too seriously and had an incredible laugh, frequently overheard to his own jokes. Even if those jokes were sometimes corny, you couldn’t help but laugh along with him. Edwin would want us all to remember to laugh, even when times are tough. It’s one of his greatest lessons that I’ve always kept with me and always will.
Edwin Figueroa was incredibly humble. Never one to talk about himself or his accomplishments, to many, he was the most selfless person they knew. He always went out of his way to not only do things for others, but to wholeheartedly encourage and support them as well. Whether it was his grandkids’ sports or music, his own children in their school or careers, the kids he worked with, or his own family, you could always trust Edwin to give you honest strength to keep going. He never once would ask you for something for himself. I almost wish he had, but you could tell that his true joy was in helping others and making them happy. Maybe that’s why his favorite holiday was Thanksgiving…or maybe it was the football and food.
Edwin Figueroa constantly inspired others. Many would say they’re inspired by their fathers, so it’s not surprising to say that he inspired me or my sisters. But what Edwin did to inspire so many other children through his work with Operation Respect is what truly made him incredible. Edwin was at the forefront of the classroom programs in New York City, working side by side with faculty and students for several years helping children and youth develop into compassionate, respectful, ethical, and civically engaged adults. The emotional responses coming in from the countless educators, faculty members and students across the city are a testament to his impact on the lives of so many. He seemed to thrive on helping the kids who were the hardest to reach, the ones who resisted his efforts at first but because he took the time, eventually came around to his way of thinking and they were better for it in the end. Edwin was truly an inspiration and spent his life giving back.
Edwin Figueroa was so unconditionally loving. Every single time I spoke to him, throughout my entire life, he would always tell me he loved me. He just had so much love to give and wasn’t afraid to show it to me or my sister. He loved his wife Maribel so much and for an incredible 24 years. You should’ve seen them on the dance floor. He loved her four children like they were his own and was always there for them no matter what. He also loved her twelve grandchildren, and raised three of them along with her. Edwin was a loving brother to his two sisters, Maria and Daisy. And a loving son to his mother, Miriam Figueroa. So many people and more were loved by Edwin, and we’ll all never stop loving him either.
These are just a few words, moments, and memories that speak to the incredible life of Edwin Figueroa. We could fill the pages of books with all of the stories and happy memories we have of him, but hopefully these words help you remember some of your favorite moments you shared. He lived a good life and passed surrounded by the love of his wife Maribel and daughter Bridget. Always humble, he didn’t want a funeral or flowers, but instead, would like us all to celebrate his life by doing one (or more) of the following:
· Go out fishing
· Play a game of dominoes
· Dance to a Marc Anthony song
· Watch a Duke (basketball), Cowboys or Mets game with someone you love
· Help Maribel make pasteles
· Donate to a foster care agency
· See Andrew (his grandson) play his trumpet
· See Aiden (his grandson) play basketball
· Most of all enjoy life, and hug the ones you love
Please join me in remembering Edwin Figueroa, my father, and celebrating his life. I love you Dad, and always will.
Written by Jayme Figueroa