Cover photo for Amparo Candela's Obituary

Amparo Candela

May 10, 1933 — April 5, 2023

Charleston, SC

Amparo Candela

Amparo Candela (Amparo Gimeno Garate)
May 10, 1933-April 5, 2023

Amparo Candela, beloved spouse, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and Christian who went to her heavenly home on April 5, 2023, ending a long life devoted to caring for others and lived with resilience, sass, and humor.

Born in the town of Orihuela in the province of Alicante, Spain to Victoria Garate Sainz and José Gimeno Perales, Amparo grew up spending much time at her paternal grandparent’s home and the downstairs family bakery run by her grandfather and father, where she and her siblings were doted upon by their five aunts. The bakery helped the family survive the social and economic upheavals of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and postwar periods, enabling them to always have bread to eat and flour to trade for other necessities. These survival strategies nonetheless brought Amparo’s father under the scrutiny of Franco’s Nationalist authorities, who suspected him of supporting Republican forces and imprisoned him for several months. At the age of sixteen, Amparo lost her father to Tuberculosis, which he contracted while in prison. With little prospects of surviving economically in the small town of Orihuela, Victoria Garate Sainz moved the family to Madrid, where she and the older children could more easily find work.

Enamored with the world of fashion and harboring hopes of studying fashion design, Amparo answered a newspaper advertisement searching for models and landed a job as a seasonal model for the designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. When Balenciaga offered her a longer-term modeling contract, Amparo’s mother refused out of a desire to protect her daughter’s virtue. Amparo then began working in the clothing retail sector and as a seamstress. Like her mother, several of her sisters and many women of the postwar era, Amparo used her finely honed sewing skills, developed at home since early childhood, to earn a living and help provide for the family. She had fond memories of the innocent sweetness of life in early 1950s Madrid, of going out with large groups of friends, and of listening to music and going dancing.

In 1955, Amparo met and fell in love with Charles Dunn, an American stationed at the Torrejon Air Force Base in Madrid. One year later, the couple married and moved across the Atlantic, first to West Palm Beach, Florida then to Jessup, Maryland in the Annapolis area. After a few years Charles left the service and began working as a trucker, and Amparo devoted herself to raising their two young daughters Cristina and Carolyn. As an active homemaker, Amparo organized a rich social and cultural life for her daughters, worked as a substitute teacher in the local schools, volunteered and participated in the local PTA. During those years she also obtained her GED.

After thirteen years of marriage Amparo and Charles divorced and she moved with her two daughters to Alicante, Spain where they could be close to her natal family. While the girls attended school, Amparo worked for a local leather shop and for the New York-based American Shoe Company, which sourced high fashion shoes at low cost from European manufacturers for distribution in the United States. The job allowed her to travel through different parts of Europe. In 1976, as her daughters were on the verge of completing high school, Amparo moved the family back to the United States and took a position working for Neiman Marcus in Miami. A year later the family left Miami and resettled in Maryland. Cristina and Carolyn eventually married and established families there while Amparo continued to work in retail.

After being in the states for a few years, Amparo reconnected with Manuel Candela, a friend from Alicante who had just lost his wife to cancer. Manuel sought Amparo out for advice about relocating to the United States with his two young daughters. Amparo began exchanging correspondence with Manuel and after several months they met in Toronto, where sparks flew, and they decided to marry. In 1979 Amparo moved again to Alicante, Spain and married Manuel. The couple then began preparations for moving the new family to the United States, which they did in 1980, settling ultimately in Charleston, South Carolina. Manuel became a shrimper and Amparo devoted herself to raising her two new daughters, Ana Maria and Maria Isabel, and to babysitting some of the neighbor’s children.

Once Ana Maria and Maria Isabel were in middle school, Amparo began to work at Abundant Life Church’s daycare, where she eventually became the Daycare Director. She spent most of her time there caring for babies and toddlers, many of whom still remember her fondly to this day. After leaving Abundant Life Church after many years of service, Amparo went on to work as a court translator, a plant nursery worker, cleaning homes on Kiawah Island, and as a restaurant hostess. She also helped care for and spend much time with her grandchildren Adam, Jeremy, and Tabitha, who relocated to the area along with their mother Cristina, bringing closer together the two parts of her family. Despite these blessings, Amparo and the family also suffered the tragic loss of her much beloved second daughter, Carolyn.

In her retirement years, Amparo enjoyed spending time with her daughter Cristina and her granddaughter Tabitha, who remained in the Charleston area and regularly took her out for her favorite pastimes of clothes shopping and eating lunch out. Over the course of her long and healthful life, Amparo enjoyed going to the beach, laying in the sun, dressing in stylish and bright-colored clothing, eating French fries and dark chocolate, and drinking Diet Coke. She adored small children, orange tabby cats, small dogs, shopping and eating out. She was a talented cook, knitter, and sewer. She met life’s ups and downs with tremendous humor and never complained of working or of caring for others. She never met a person she did not like, and always showed the people in her life tremendous generosity. And she remained, throughout the course of her life, a woman of tremendous faith.

Amparo is survived by her spouse Manuel Candela, her daughters Cristina Amparo Hullett, Ana Maria Candela and Maria Isabel Candela, by her seven grandchildren Ryan, Adam, Jeremy, Tabitha, Amy, Kenneth and Michael, by her seven great-grandchildren Leland, Aiden, Colton, Thomas, Taylor, Alex, and Brady, by her four siblings Margarita, Mari Carmen, Virginia and Fernando Gimeno Garate, and by fifteen nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Victoria Garate Sainz and José Gimeno Perales, her daughter Carolyn Willis [Carl Willis], and her siblings José Luis and Kino Gimeno Garate.

We know that God is pleased to have one of His kind and generous angels back in his arms, where she belongs, but she will be sorely missed by those on earth. A memorial service will be held in honor of her life at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at the International Church of God at 1560 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29407. 

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Saturday, April 22, 2023

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