Obituary of Marlene J. Looney
Marlene J. Looney passed away on October 17 at the age of 63. She was a woman of change and an advocate for immigrants and innocent stray animals. Marlene was born in Havana Cuba on August 19, 1959, the daughter of the late Maria Luisa Lastra Facenda and Armando Parra Lorenzo. She immigrated to the United States in 1966 and spent her childhood in Chicago. Marlene had a BS in Biology from Loyola University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Missouri. She retired from the pharmaceutical industry in 2016 but maintained an active lifestyle supporting the immigrants from her homeland in Cuba as well as supporting stray helpless animals in her island home.
Upon returning to her homeland Cuba in 2009 for the first time in 44 years Marlene witnessed the suffering of the stray animals on the street and the needless difficulties that the population faced as a result of the political tensions between the US and Cuba as well as the unfairness of the political system in place in Cuba. This experience would shape her passion which would be a major part of the rest of her life. Marlene would not wait for others to provide solutions. In her words, “I am the solution”, became her mantra to effect a change.
By connecting individuals (protectors) who were rescuing stray animals across the island and identifying veterinarians who would donate or provide low-cost services she was able to spay and treat hundreds of stray dogs and cats for parasites to help reduce and improve the health of the stray population. She also helped to coordinate across these protectors to share and maximize the use of scarce but needed resources.
The stories of scarcity of food, resources in general, and the struggle of just daily living in Cuba had a profound impact on her. She learned the true meaning of “es dificil” (it's difficult). Marlene worked tirelessly for the last 13 years in her annual treks back to Cuba to help with food, medical supplies, clothes, toys, and school supplies for many children and families across the island. She also provided financial assistance and in some cases a home to over a dozen Cubans. She protested in support of freedoms for the Cuban people and was always willing to encourage representatives in DC to support the opening of Cuba and the rights of its people.
Marlene will be greatly missed by her husband Greg, son Matthew, and friends and family. She will also be missed by the hundreds of Cubans whose lives she has touched in her homeland of Cuba as well as those who have immigrated to the US.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Ambar’s Animal Rescue in honor of Marlene at: ambarsrescue.org/donate