Born January 15th 1962 Miami Florida Died September 8th 2014
Youngest of 5 siblings: Josefina (Fefa), Tony (Fat), Carlos (Chiqui) , Barbara (Babelyn)
As the youngest of five, he acquired the tag “The Kid” almost at birth. Our family lived in a very poor area of Miami after leaving Cuba in 1960
He attended Buena Vista Elementary School, and Robert E. Lee Jr. High School, and Miami Senior High.
Although Robert never had a formal higher education, he became extremely adept at figuring out the angles and getting to the heart of the matter. He worked in the hospitality industry in Coconut Grove after High School and then moved to Key West for a couple of years and then moved to Orlando where he continued in the same industry. At age 25 he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and had to go on disability. He lived with the illness for almost thirty years. During the last two decades of his life he dedicated himself to helping other of his friends and acquaintances navigate the maze of government red tape as well as the medical ones. Whenever someone hit a road block, someone would say “Go see Robert, he will show you how!” He never developed full blown AIDS, partially because he lived on a regimen of a bagful of prescriptions every day and perhaps because he was one of those who were able to fight the full effects of the disease.
He had a green thumb and when it came to Orchids, he was known as the “Orchid Whisperer”. Even when it seemed that the orchid had died, he nurtured it until it came back to life.
Two years ago he moved to Miami to live with his sister Barbara, who nursed him for many months as his health, both physical as well as psychological was deteriorating. After a few months he wanted to go back to his home in Orlando. A week later he was found dead of coronary heart disease.
The last time I spoke to him a couple of weeks before his death I told him to try to look at the glass half-full. He laughed and told me, “It’s neither half-dull nor half-empty, there is no glass, and everything is gone. The loves of my life are dead, my best friends are dead, and although I know have a family that loves me it’s getting harder to want to wake up every morning!”
He had a deep love for his family and for Key West. Today his name is inscribed at the AIDS Memorial at White Street Pier, Robert “The Kid” Yaniz. I’m sure he would approve.
He was a good man, a good friend and a great brother. May he Rest In Peace.