Dr. Louis E. Queral dies at 88

Retired surgeon was leader in Baltimore's Latino community

March 03, 2010|By Jacques Kelly

Louis E. Queral, a retired general surgeon who had been a leader in Baltimore's Latino community, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 24 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. The Towson resident was 88.

Born in Puerto Padre, Cuba, he earned a degree from the University of Havana's medical school. He became a plastic surgeon and founded a clinic in Havana. He met his future wife, Evangeline Ramos, who later practiced family medicine, while they were students.

Family members said he had hopes for the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro but became disillusioned when he learned that firing squads were used to quiet opposition.

He practiced medicine in Cuba until 1957, when he moved to Baltimore. He and his wife had second thoughts about staying here after the city was struck by two large snowstorms in February and March 1958. They initially settled in Oakenshawe.

"Tropical Cuba seemed very appealing," said his daughter, Eva Queral Fiastro of Lutherville.

Dr. Queral and his wife did residencies in general surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, then in West Baltimore, and at the old Lutheran Hospital.

He established a general surgery practice on Annapolis Boulevard in the Baltimore Highlands section of Baltimore County and a second practice on West North Avenue. He, his wife and Dr. Homayoon Taavon formed the Parkanna Medical Center, which they ran for many years.

Dr. Queral was a staff member of the old South Baltimore General Hospital, now Harbor Hospital. He retired nearly 20 years ago.

Friends said Dr. Queral enjoyed meeting people and working to establish social ties within the Cuban and Latin-American community. He chaired a group that organized the early 1970s Spanish festivals in Hopkins Plaza. He later founded the Spanish Fiesta, a nonprofit organization that held cultural events and raised scholarship funds for Hispanic students.

"He was a natural leader and loved to be involved," said Jorge Giro, a friend who is the former chairman of Towson University's department of modern languages. "He was there to help people."

As part of his work in Maryland's Cuban community, he founded a monthly newsletter, El Mensajero, in 1975. The publication, whose name translates as "The Messenger," contained news of birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, recipes, medical news, politics, art, literature and music. He initially typed the publication and in later years learned to produce it with a computer. At his death, he was working on a new issue.

Dr. Queral lobbied, through a foundation he headed, to have a monument to the Cuban patriot Jose Marti erected at Broadway and Fayette Street in 1998. In a Baltimore Sun interview, he said Marti was one of his heroes and that he kept the patriot's books behind his desk. Dr. Queral, who painted extensively, had a painting of a scene of Marti's death.

"Jose Marti could be a role model for all the Spanish-speaking people and community members," he said in 1998. "Marti was a poet, a man who loved freedom. He was the symbol of Cuba's struggle for freedom and democracy."

Dr. Queral also enjoyed politics and had been chairman of the Maryland chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and Hispanics for Ehrlich in 2002. He served on the Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs. He also was invited to the White House by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

He volunteered at a medical clinic at Fort Indiantown Gap during the 1980 Mariel Cuban boatlift. He also sponsored nine Cuban refugees fleeing the island at that time by getting them housing and clothing.

A Mass was held Saturday at the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity in Timonium.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 62 years; a son, Luis A. Queral of Lutherville; a sister, Ana Queral of Towson; a brother, Dr. Fernando Queral of Towson; and five grandchildren.

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