Vera Clemente, widow of Roberto, dies


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Vera Clemente in 2013. -- WPXI

Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto Clemente and goodwill ambassador for Major League Baseball, died Saturday. She was 78.

The Pirates tweeted on Nov. 1 that Clemente was in "delicate health."

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Vera Clemente, the widow of the great Roberto Clemente and a cherished member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball family," Pirates chairman of the board Bob Nutting said in a released statement. "Vera epitomized grace, dignity and strength in the wake of heartbreaking tragedy and loss.

"Following Roberto’s passing, Vera raised their three sons into outstanding men, while also working tirelessly to ensure her and her husband’s shared vision of compassion, service and love of others lived on forever. Vera was an amazing ambassador for the Pirates organization, our city, the game of baseball and their beloved Puerto Rico. It is with very heavy hearts that we send our condolences to Roberto Jr., Luis, Enrique and the entire Clemente family. May they find comfort in knowing that Vera and Roberto are together once again.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred also released a statement:

“All of us at Major League Baseball are saddened by the passing of Vera Clemente, the wife of legendary Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. As a Goodwill Ambassador for MLB, Vera impacted countless children and extended her family’s humanitarian legacy of helping those in need. With grace and strength, she led the way in welcoming players to the fraternity of Roberto Clemente Award winners, the single most prestigious off-the-field honor in our game.

“Vera’s baseball family will miss her greatly. We send our deepest condolences to Roberto Jr., Luis, Enrique, the entire Clemente family, the fans of Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, and her many admirers across our game.”

Vera was a chairwoman of the Roberto Clemente Foundation, which focuses on relief efforts for areas stricken by disaster and long-term poverty so they can “spread Roberto’s legacy of faith, love, and service to thousands of needy people all over the world.”

Puerto Rico governor Wanda Vázquez Garced tweeted her condolences. Translated from Spanish, she wrote: "I join the pain of the family of Mrs. Vera Cristina Zabala, widow of our star, Roberto Clemente. Vera worked to ensure that Clemente's legacy will last, pride of all Puerto Ricans. Rest in peace."

Reactions came from all over in all forms:

Vera and Roberto were married from Nov. 14, 1964 through his passing on Dec. 31, 1972. She is survived by their three sons, Roberto Clemente Jr., Luis, and Enrique.

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