Life was a celebration that could not be put on hold for Victoria London. When she walked into the room, all eyes would admire the statuesque Romanian blonde. But it was her intelligence and sense of humor that made her the life of the party.
London, 69, continued to entertain her friends and family members until she died Tuesday of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease.
For those who remember her, London lived her life to the fullest. She traveled the world, visiting everywhere but Saudi Arabia.
“What I loved about her was her joie de vivre,” said friend Aida Levitan. “She was a woman who really believed in getting the most out of life.”
Her journey began in Romania, where she grew up and went to college. She would go on to Columbia University to study for a master’s in chemical engineering and business administration. At Columbia, London met her future husband, Ed London, and moved to Key Biscayne.
Education was a pivotal experience that London felt everyone should have.
She created a scholarship fund at the Key Biscayne Community Foundation to help graduate students who were looking to continue their educations.
London’s own education gave her power in what was then a boys-club business world.
London worked for a consulting firm and a bank trust company before becoming an investment advisor at Goldman Sachs and Drexel Burnham.
She then decided to return to her roots and, in 2004, became Romania’s honorary consul in Miami, a position she held at the time of her death.
She had a good relationship with the Romanian community, said Gabriel Rotaru, counselor for the Romanian Embassy to the United States.
Chatting, meeting new people and entertaining made the consul’s job a perfect fit for London, who kept a busy social life.
Her social occasions were often a part of her philanthropic efforts. London donated $100,000 to the Peter London Global Dance Company.
Peter London, the founder of the company and no relation, said he was “blown away” by Victoria’s donation. In her honor, the dance company held a performance, Ballet for Victoria, in April.
“She was one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met,” Peter London said.
At the time, she was too ill to attend as a result of her condition, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Peter London had the performance recorded so Victoria could watch it at home.
He plans to stage another dance performance for her family and friends in June.
While London lived with her disease, she found solace with her loved ones. She had visitors over for hours at a time until her death, friend Kathy Hirsch said.
“Until the end, she was just still up and trying to keep everyone happy,” she said.
Yet for someone so full of life, it was hard for London’s loved ones to see her silenced by sickness.
“She was trapped in this body which would not function,” said Ed London, Victoria’s ex-husband. “She couldn’t walk or move her arms.”
Breathing and speaking became difficult toward the end. Not being able to hold her two grandchildren frustrated her.
“We will miss her dearly,” Hirsch said.
London is survived by two sons, Jack and Aggy, and two granddaughters, Madison and Ella Victoria.
Family members and friends will hold a celebration of life event Friday at her Key Biscayne home. The family asked that donations in her honor be made to her scholarship fund or the ALS Foundation for Life.