Jason Strada, executive director of the Friends of the Cabildo, will address the society during its August general membership meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 at 7:00 pm in Los Isleños Center, 1357 A Bayou Road, St. Bernard, 70085. Mr. Strada will discuss the Louisiana State Museum, its collections and the role of the Friends of the Cabildo as the support organization for the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. He will also discuss the Spanish Heritage Day symposium that the Friends of the Cabildo will sponsor with support from Los Isleños Society, scheduled for Monday, September 21st, 2015 in the United States Mint.


Mr. Strada is a native of Mobile, Alabama and is an alumnus of Auburn University. He has brought vitality to the Friends of the Cabildo as he continues to reach out in the community to develop new, mutually beneficial relationships for the Friends and organizations such as ours.


Nominations for the October 2015 Annual Election will open during the August 11th meeting. The nomination process will close during the September 2015 general membership meeting. Offices for consideration are President, Secretary, and the Sergeant-at-Arms position currently held by Paul Lagarde. The three directorships to be considered in this election are held by Cinda Melerine (2013-2015), Kathy Serpas Ziegler (2013-2015) and Dorothy L. Benge (2014-2015).




Monique Verdin, a St. Bernard native and Houma Native American descendant has been invited to present a special program about Hurricane Katrina and wetlands preservation. Ms. Verdin is a filmmaker and has supported the Isleños Society through several significant volunteer projects at the museum complex such as rebuilding palmetto huts and the Land Seed and Memory Bank Project. More news will be available about the program shortly.



Los Isleños Society has spent $12,200.00 since April 2015 repairing buildings and purchasing a new computer system. Hurricane Isaac damage, inflicted in 2012, was remedied in Los Isleños Museum. This work included, but was not limited to, repairing sheet rock, repainting walls and ceilings in the museum. Flashing was installed on the Isleños Museum windows and doors and carpentry repairs and molding replacements were completed as well. All Pest Exterminators submitted a bid for $3,200 to treat all nine structures in Los Isleños Museum Complex for termites and maintain a termite monitoring service for the buildings. The Society also purchased three new computers and printers for the Museum Complex – the old computers and printers were four years old and almost completely inoperative. Glen Menesses has generously and graciously volunteered to provide IT service for the Museum Complex. We are soliciting bids for our next phase of repairs and will begin immediately. Other elements in overall maintenance support include grounds maintenance, cleaning all nine structures in the Museum Complex, advertising/promotion, web services and office expenses, insurance, gift shop, Isleños collegiate scholarship and many other items. The grand total of Museum Complex maintenance subsidies from January to June 2015 amounts to $51,174.87.






Los Isleños Society has lost one of its longest term and most senior members, Arnold Rodriguez. “Mr. Youyou” passed away July 8th, 2015 at the age of 95 years. He was preceded in death by his wife, the late Josephine Melerine. They were a handsome couple who both loved to dance and socialize. “Mr. Youyou” was born along Bayou Lafourche in 1920 and settled in St. Bernard in 1934. He was the father of Director Cinda Rodriguez Melerine, Arnold, Diane and Sharon. He was a proud grandfather and great-grandfather. He rendered distinguished service to his country during World War II. “Mr. Youyou” served as staff sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, fighting in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. He allowed Los Isleños Society to erect a historic marker in the front yard of his Delacroix Island home commemorating Fort Darby in 1998. The Society extends its most profound condolences to Cinda Melerine, her siblings and family on the death of their heroic father. Cinda was very true to the Isleños tradition of personally caring for family members through ill health.




It is with the deepest regret that Los Isleños Society notes the death of one of its most positive and active members, Dyton Ruiz, July 19th, 2015. Dyton was a native of Algiers, but his father and family all were born in Bencheque (Reggio). His beloved companion, Joan Dumser, joined Dyton in ardently supporting the programs of Los Isleños Society. Before and after the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, Dyton cooked for the annual festival and our contributed to our popular pot-luck dinners. He, Joan and their family were particularly supportive of our restoration/rebuilding efforts following Katrina. Dyton cooked lunch for every general membership meeting following Katrina from September 2006 until our return to the Isleños Museum in April 2010. He also substantially supported efforts to reestablish the Blessing of the Fishing Fleet (2007 – 2010) and traveled to the Canary Islands in 2008. Dyton served as one of our sergeants-at-arms for many years. His health had declined gradually over several years. He was the father of four children and was a proud family patriarch. Dyton was retired from the New Orleans Police Department where he had a distinguished career in law enforcement. He was active in the Masons, benefitted from a wonderfully inquisitive mentality, was an avid reader and excellent conversationalist. The Society extends its condolences to Joan Dumser and Dyton’s family.



Los Isleños Society needs additional volunteer docents to tour the Museum Complex!! Please call Museum Complex Manager Bill Hyland at 504.874.0635 or e-mail him at if you are interested in serving as a volunteer docent. The Museum Complex is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and by appointment. A tour script has been developed and procedures have been reduced to narrative form. Training classes will begin in the fall. Your service will be appreciated!!




August 11th, 2015 7:00 p.m., General Membership Meeting, Jason Strada, speaker

August 16th, 2015 Feast of Saint Bernard Mass, St. Bernard Catholic Church;

Luncheon, Los Isleños Center following Mass; more information to follow;

Catherine Serpas and Kathy Ziegler, co-chairpersons

September 15th, 2015 7:00 p.m., General Membership Meeting, Monique Verdin

September 21st, 2015 Spanish Heritage Day, Louisiana State Museum,

United States Mint Building, more information to follow

September 27th, 2015 3:00 p.m., Henry “Junior” Rodriguez plaque dedication, Los Isleños Center

October 11th, 2015 3:00 p.m., Fundraiser, Dia de la Hispanidad/General Membership Meeting,

Los Isleños Center

November 5-6, 2015 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Museum Days

November 10th, 2015 7:00 p.m., General Membership Meeting

December 5th, 2015 Christmas Program, Kathy Serpas Ziegler, Chairperson

The schedule will be updated and more information provided in future newsletters. Please save these dates!



We have had a busy year! Since January we have had numerous visits from the Canaries. In January and March we had the delight to assist Jonathan Cabrera and Eduardo Cubillo with his documentary crew for several weeks. Eduardo is working on, Isleños, A root of America, a comprehensive documentary on the contributions of Isleños throughout American history. It is amazing to see the footage and interviews that he has compiled, words do not give it justice. I recommend that you see for yourself by going to his website,


Thenesoya Martín and Aníbal Martel have been working on a photographic essay of the Isleños in Louisiana for several years and I am overjoyed to say that they have been published in “Excelente” the business class magazine found in all seats on Iberia airline during the month of July. Congratulations to Thenesoya and Aníbal for taking us around the world! If you would like to get more information on this project please visit


There have been changes in the Canaries. Jonathan Cabrera remains our staunch advocate in Tenerife and the Canaries. Jonathan is preparing an exhibition about the Isleños and our history in Louisiana for the Canarian government to be presented in October. He is determined to ensure that the Isleños in Louisiana and North America be recognized and never forgotten. We appreciate all of the assistance Jonathan!

Fernando Clavijo, former mayor of La Laguna in Tenerife, was elected president of the Autonomous Government of the Canary Islands, an office equivalent to a state governorship in the United States. Bill Hyland, Joan Phillips, Dot Benge and Bert Esteves met President Clavijo in 2011 during their visit to Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Once again, the Society extends its very best wishes to President Clavijo and hopes to work successfully with him to promote recognition of the Canaries in the United States. Antonio Morales, former mayor of our sister city, Aguimes in Gran Canaria, was recently elected president of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria. The Society extends its congratulations and best wishes to all.


Benito Cabrera’s lightening visit to St. Bernard, June 6-8, 2015, was a great success. He and his delegation were able to see St. Bernard/New Orleans for the first time since their trip in 2007. The delegation toured the metro area and was overwhelmingly impressed by the successful rebuilding of St. Bernard. The excellent restoration of Los Isleños Museum Complex was particularly significant to the Canarians. Benito’s concert in the Chalmette High School Cultural Arts Building was breathtaking. More than 60 members and guests attended. Dot Benge, Bill Hyland, Clem Mackles and Paula Mackles were indispensable in supporting the transportation of the group and taking care of other courtesies associated with the visit. I would like to thank, Cisco Gonzales, Jr. and Michaela Kramer for assisting me with the refreshments for the reception following the concert. Chalmette High School Principal Wayne Warner placed the technology theater at the disposal of Los Isleños Society. I thank everyone who supported this effort and enjoyed the concert!!

Tenerife native and Society member Alejandro Escarabajal returned to Louisiana July 29th, 2015 with his lovely wife Yurena. They will be in residence with Dot Benge until they can find permanent lodging in Metairie. Alejandro will teach Spanish at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in New Orleans. He performed his student teaching at Chalmette high school in 2014. We welcome their involvement in the Society and Museum Complex.


I encourage everyone to attend our programs and support the work of Los Isleños Society! Museum Complex maintenance is progressing and recognition of our museum complex is increasing throughout the metropolitan area and the Canaries. While we have achieved much, much more remains undone. Your help is crucial to the future of Los Isleños Museum Complex and the mission of Los Isleños Society. Thank you for your interest!!