Maritza Iberico Reiss learned growing up in Lima, Peru, that life is to be lived and loved so that beauty and culture can always be experienced.
A Spanish teacher at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, Iberico Reiss was also a world traveler, guided by her mantras: “Look for solutions. Don’t overcomplicate things. Enjoy life. Reach for the stars.’’
That belief propelled her to hike the Andes mountains, the Amazonian jungles of Peru and most recently the ancient worlds of Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
Iberico Reiss, 65, was a healthy woman with no preexisting conditions when she became ill with COVID-19. “She fought tooth and nail,’’ said her son, Bennet Reiss. “But every time she got out of it, it came back out of nowhere,’’ said Reiss, who unlike so many others was able to hold his mother’s hand when she died in the hospital on April 20.
Iberico Reiss, of Great Neck, would not be “molded" or fit into any stereotype, her son said.
Iberico Reiss earned two master’s degrees. One, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, landed her in New York City — a cosmopolitan haven that nourished her worldly passions when she was in her 30s. She received a second master’s degree from Queens College.
There were always friends and relatives to visit in European cities, said Reiss, who was 6 when his mother took him and his 10-year-old cousin to Paris, Marseille, Barcelona, Seville and Madrid — carrying only their backpacks to experience the Barcelona Olympic Games and the World’s Fair in Seville.
Before Iberico Reiss died she received dozens of daily text messages of love and hope from family and friends. “She said in Spanish that each text was 'se vale un Peru' " — an item of great worth, as great as the gold of the ancient Inca Empire.
In addition to her son, Iberico Reiss is survived by two brothers, Arturo "Pitty'' Iberico and Carlos Iberico, both of Lima; two sisters, Carmen Gommel of New Orleans and Rosa Monello of Marseille, France; and seven nieces and nephews.