A while back, I began looking into the life of Andrew Gutierrez: his grave is a few minutes walk from my UNC office. I was surprised to find a fellow Gutierrez in Chapel Hill: I haven’t met any others in the four years I’ve been here. Looking through an ancestry website, which held census and naturalization records, yearbooks pictures, a draft card, and death certificate, I was able to work up a brief bio:
Andrew Gutierrez was born on New Year’s Eve 1903 in Santiago, Cuba to Jose and Emma Gutierrez. He was given the first name Andres, a name he carried to the United States aboard the SS Munargo, which dropped him in New York on June 27, 1922. He went on to attend the University of North Carolina and became a Civil Engineer. On Christmas Eve of 1924, he married Margaret Nesbitt, 17, whose family had been in Chapel Hill for a generation. You can still see the Nesbitt name on certain business in the area. At some point, they moved to Urbana, Illinois, where there first child Andrew was born in 1925. Three more children followed: Joseph, Rosita, and Margaret. Some time in the late 20s, the family moved back to Chapel Hill, where Andrew worked as an engineer at the Durham County Water Department. Later, he moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where he worked for the D.C. government. He died in Virginia in 1980 of Acute Pulmonary Ademaand Parkinsons.
Of course, very little of this tells me anything about his life, what he loved, what he thought of the life he led, how it must have pained him not to be able to return to Cuba in his later years. Still, every day when I see his headstone, I try to imagine those things, to fill in the other parts of life, the ones that don’t end up on paper.