Deaths of note: Hilda Caballero Diaz-Balart, Demetrius Newton

Hilda Caballero Diaz-Balart
Cuban exile

Hilda Caballero Diaz-Balart, a Cuban exile and the mother of two South Florida members of Congress, died Sept. 11 at her home in Miami. She was 88.

Former congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) confirmed his mother’s death but did not disclose the cause.

Her youngest son is Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R). Another son, Jose, is a news anchor for Telemundo. Her eldest son, Rafael, is a banker.

She was born in Camaguey, Cuba. She married Rafael Diaz-Balart, a Cuban lawmaker under the strongman Fulgencio Batista.

Her husband was a close friend of Fidel Castro while the two were at the University of Havana, and his sister became Castro’s first wife. But he and Castro had a falling out and became staunch political enemies. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said his mother, unlike his father, was always wary of Castro.

The couple fled Cuba in December 1958, shortly before Castro declared the Cuban revolution victorious — expecting to return a few months later. They never did. They lived in Spain for a time and divorced in 1975. Rafael Diaz-Balart, who became an outspoken exile leader, died in 2005.

Demetrius Newton
civil rights lawyer, lawmaker

Demetrius Newton, a civil rights lawyer who became the first black person to serve as speaker pro tem of the Alabama House of Representatives, died Sept. 11 at his home in Birmingham. He was 85.

The family announced the death but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Newton was former city attorney for Birmingham and had served in the legislature since 1986. He was speaker pro tem from 1998 until 2010. In the legislature, he was an critic of Alabama’s 1901 constitution, which he described as too long and out-of date.

Mr. Newton, a native of Fairfield, Ala., was a graduate of Wilberforce University in Ohio and Boston University’s law school. Before he was elected to the legislature, he was an attorney for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others arrested during civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham.

— From news services

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