Marian Del Vecchio, a political cartoonist and longtime Miami Beach activist, died Saturday.
She was 84 and had pancreatic cancer.
Del Vecchio spent more than 20 years living and documenting the changing character of South Beach through her sharply satirical drawings, shedding light through humor on local government corruption, zoning laws and the needs of the city’s homeless population.
“She was able to be helpful by being an experienced, sympathetic, honest human being that people could relate to,” said Del Vecchio’s 86-year-old husband Frank Del Vecchio, a former attorney and Miami Beach community leader. “She had this quality of no ego, no self-promotion and she was loved. ... She despised intentional cruelty; she valued kindness.”
Originally from the former nation of Czechoslovakia, Del Vecchio is survived by her husband and her two children, Richard, 51, and Angela Del Vecchio, 49.
In her recently published memoir, Hunger, Del Vecchio describes her family’s migration from her native country to England in 1938, only to later flee the London Blitz to Brazil and then settle in New York. She tells the story of her quiet struggle with bulimia in her youth, which led her to seek treatment at a psychiatric facility in Boston.
“A whole era beginning with a war,” Frank Del Vecchio said. “I want her to be remembered. She had a unique life. ... My personal hope is that she will benefit many people who are troubled [through] her book.”
Marian Del Vecchio’s cartoons were also regularly featured under the section “A Different View” for the Miami Herald from 2000 to 2005 . Her drawings were also featured at a recent exhibit by the Miami Design Preservation League at the Art Deco Museum. Frank Del Vecchio kept spreading his wife’s cartoons by sending them to hundreds of subscribers of his regular community newsletter.
Jo Manning, who has known the Del Vecchio family for over two decades, said she first met the cartoonist during regular city meetings they both attended. Del Vecchio’s selfless love for Miami Beach, Manning said, is what drew them closer together.
“We both were outspoken, we spoke our mind, and we found common ground there,” Manning said. “She was not only intelligent, she was honest, she was outspoken. … What you saw is what you got, that was her. She was real.”
Manning, 78, said Del Vecchio will be missed for her “upbeat” personality, her sense of humor and her impact on the community.
“They knew that by caring you can make it a better city. And everyone, all of the politicians ... they always checked in with the Del Vecchios. Every single one of them,” Manning said. “They wanted their support because it was important.”
The Del Vecchio family will have a “Celebration of Life” ceremony on Sept. 9.
Instead of flowers, relatives request donations be made in her name to the West End Museum in Boston. Her family is in the process of compiling a collection of her work.