Marta Maria Fiol
Marta Maria Fiol (Vidal), born December 28th, 1946, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday, January 12th, 2024, in Melbourne, Florida. Marta was born in Havana, Cuba to Marta Vidal (Guttierez) and Manuel Vidal. She was the oldest of four siblings, a sister Cristina “Kiri”, and two brothers, Manuel Jr. “Manny” and Miguel “Mike”. The family attempted to emigrate to the United States to seek a life free of communism when Marta was only 12 years old. They did so by narrowly escaping the militia that was brought into Havana. Aligned with the Batista government, her family went to the Chilean Embassy where they sought political asylum. She recounts the terror and fear and even having to lay on the floor to avoid bullets but added that instead she opted to kneel and pray. She frequently told us stories about how the militia came to the embassy and wanted to assassinate the men inside, though the Ambassador had different plans. He gathered all of the women and the children and placed them in front of the militia in the courtyard area and instructed the men that they would have to kill the women and the children first. Marta would describe in great clarity and detail the beautiful green eyes of one of the men that started to lower his weapon. The rest of the men would follow this lead, leaving the embassy without bloodshed.
Eventually the Vidals would settle in Miami, Florida, in 1959 where life was filled with wonderful friends and families and countless stories of mom’s antics, pranks and parties where there was always singing, dancing and tons of music. Marta graduated from Coral Gables High School, and then attended Charron Williams Commercial College where she obtained an associate degree. She began working at Jackson Memorial Hospital as a Medical Transcriptionist in the Neurosurgery Department, before transferring to Psychiatry. Eventually she would move over to the Radiology Department, an area where she would continue for the remainder of her career.
Marta met Juan L. Fiol, Jr. while at a party in Miami Beach when they were 17, and the two were married in 1968. Shortly thereafter, Juan received a scholarship to the Florida Institute of Technology and the two moved to Melbourne in 1969. She began working at the Brevard Regional Hospital (now Holmes Regional), in the Radiology Department. She made so many wonderful friends there, as did Dad when he was working at Stottler Stagg and Associates. These people welcomed the Fiols with open arms, and many of them we still refer to as family to this day. Marta and Juan would eventually have two children, a daughter, Marta T. “Tiki” Fiol, and then Juan Luis Fiol, III “Juan Tres”. Marta was an extremely devoted mother to her children, often saying yes, and later figuring out how to make these things happen. In speaking with some of her longtime friends from Miami, they explained Marta and Juan preferred the slower, quieter life in Melbourne and never returned to live in Miami, though they visited frequently for holidays and vacations with their families and ensure their two children learned the traditions and built relationships with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a myriad of cousins. Marta and Juancho were married 55 years at the time of her passing.
Most people are aware of Marta’s many battles with Cancer in multiple forms over several decades. And many people are aware of her faith and devotion to God. She wanted to follow in the steps of Mother Teresa. Mom was a volunteer not just here in Brevard County, but in many places throughout the world. Multiple trips were made to India where she worked in the Christian Cancer Center and Hope Village. She would later return and work in the orphanages of Mother Teresa. Mom would also travel to Haiti to assist with recovery efforts and assistance. And she did even more work here in the States, always giving to others. She was on several Non-Profit Boards and volunteered on committees and coalitions. Marta often referred to herself as a “professional beggar” when trying to fundraise for the Cancer Care Foundation. She led Cancer survivor groups, she planned parties, she engaged in public speaking and media campaigns to get the word out, she made countless phone calls to assist those in need, she volunteered at Daily Bread, she served in the Prison Ministry in Brevard County, and so much more. She was determined to help those in need or those less fortunate, and ensure people received proper care and assistance in whatever form that may be. When Tiki and Juan Tres were in college, she began the steps to take her vows as a lay nun with the Discalced Carmelites. Through it all she continued to help others in any way possible, never having met a stranger, many of these people would become friends of hers.
Marta officially “retired” as a Marketing Manager in 2016 from Cancer Care Centers of Brevard to spend more time with her grandsons, Jackson Luis Fiol, and Brantley Daniel Fiol. She was affectionately referred to as “Lola” during this time in her life. Jackson was not able to articulate “Abuela” very well as a young child, and so the nickname Lola just seemed to fit. All the kids’ friends and our neighbors referred to her as Lola from this point forward. She was the neighborhood abuela, making sure everyone got something from the ice-cream truck, helping teach them Spanish, or even giving guitar lessons to the kids. She lived for and loved these boys with all that she had. Once again, she could never say no, and worked hard to make sure their time spent together was full of love and memories and most importantly…fun. Lola joined Tiki, her wife Dana Fiol, and the boys on many trips and adventures from the beaches of Hawaii to the mountains of the Carolinas. She always wanted to be with her boys and found great joy in being a part of their lives and teaching them her techniques for fishing with a Cuban yo-yo. Later in life mom would volunteer at Brantley’s daycare, singing, playing guitar and teaching Spanish, as well joining bible studies and women’s groups. For as long as she physically could, Lola attended countless football, soccer and baseball games. You could always hear her screaming and cheering them on from the sidelines. She was a fierce competitor, and the referees and umpires would hear it if they made a bad call. We are sure she prayed for them to gain wisdom or better eyesight after the games.
We are all thankful for the memories and time we spent with Lola. She never missed a chance to smile, to impact others positively, and to give to others with all of her being. Services will be held at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne, FL on Saturday February 10th, 2024 at 1:00pm. A reception will be held immediately after mass in the Large Hall to celebrate her life and memories. A second funeral mass and reception will be held in Miami, Florida. Details will be provided once the planning is finalized.
Marta lived a life full of love, family, friendship, generosity, compassion, and altruism. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation to keep her legacy of giving alive.