Obituary of Antonio Rafael de la Cova
Dr. Antonio Rafael de la Cova, 68, of West Columbia, S.C., succumbed to rhabdomyosarcoma on December 30, 2018, after receiving the last rites of the Catholic Church and the Papal Blessing of John Paul II. He passed away in his bed embracing his wife and surrounded by his 5,000 books and his artwork. Born in Havana, Cuba, on November 27, 1950, he departed for the United States with his family as penniless refugees fleeing the Castro Communist tyranny on February 1, 1961. His father, Rene Antonio de la Cova, owned a pharmaceutical business and his mother Nancy Lourdes Gonzalez-Abreu had a Ph.D. in pedagogy from the University of Havana and was a school superintendent. After growing up in Memphis, Tenn., Louisville, Ky. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Antonio volunteered for the U.S. Army in Fort Jackson, S.C. and served during 1968-1969. He afterward lived in New York City and worked for a life insurance company during three years before graduating from Florida Atlantic University in 1975 with a B.A. in history. An emeritus member of masonic Amelia Lodge #47 in Fernandina Beach, Fla., he was also a 32 Degree master of the Scottish Rite.
Antonio was active in the Cuban freedom fighter movement during his entire adult life. He was an investigative reporter and editor of Crónica Gráfica magazine in San Juan, Puerto Rico during 1982-1988 before receiving an M.A. degree in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University in 1989. Antonio later graduated with a Ph.D. in history from West Virginia University in 1994 and taught at various universities, the last being the University of South Carolina at Columbia (USC) from which he retired in 2018. He is the author of Cuban Confederate Colonel: The Life of Ambrosio José Gonzales (USC Press, 2003), five other books, and numerous essays on United States-Cuban history http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/publications.htm
He is survived by his widow, USC Associate Professor Carlina de la Cova, siblings Joaquin, Rene, Jorge, Ana, Lourdes, and nieces and nephews. During their 23-year marriage, Antonio and Carlina extensively traveled throughout the United States and in twenty countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America, at times living abroad for months. Antonio will be interred in Fort Jackson National Cemetery.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They thank the physicians, nurses and staff at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, S.C., for their outstanding compassionate care of Antonio during many years.