Roberto Alicea-Cruz – Columbia Star

Roberto Alicea-Cruz, 86, died suddenly on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Roberto was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico to Juan Alicea and Concepción Cruz. From an early age, he was sent to live with his grandparents. His grandparents and uncle operated a small bar and grocery store and that’s where Roberto credited his ability to work with people.

At 21, he joined the US Army and served in the heavy artillery corps until 1960. He was transferred to Fort Jackson. Without an artillery division, he switched from heavy artillery to cook training. Soon Roberto was working as a cook for the post commander. Additionally, he worked at a Fort Jackson snack bar and at the officers’ club. His military career included tours of Korea and Germany before retiring in 1976.

In 1977, his passion for cooking continued when he started working for a small sandwich shop in Five Points called Lombardi’s. A year later, the shop was bought and became Yesterday’s Restaurant. Yesterday co-owner Duncan MacRae once joked that “Berto came with the building”. Roberto was asked one day about his philosophy and he replied: “Cooking is an art. I love to cook something and the result is 100% perfect. I keep working until I succeed. And I appreciate when people eat my food and ask, ‘who did this?’ It’s like I always say to my friends and colleagues, “I like to hear compliments, not complaints.”

He was a member of VFW Post 641, donated to several charities, and was an active member of the Hickory Ridge Neighborhood Association. Her foundation was her Catholic faith and family was always at the center of her life. His love and passion for baseball was well known to his entire family. He enjoyed watching the Atlanta Braves and his hometown team, Los Criollos de Caguas.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by three sisters, Julie, Paula and Belencita, and an infant son, Roberto Alicea Jr. Living to cherish his memory are his wife Sandy and children, Bobby Greene, Maribel Alicea, Erick Alicea, and Mayra Alicea. He leaves behind eight grandchildren and far too many relatives to list.

Visitation is scheduled for March 5 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Thompson Funeral Home-Leesburg Road. A funeral liturgy will follow and interment will be in Greenlawn Cemetery.

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