Patricia Cepeda, interpreter

July 23, 2013

Patricia Cepeda, a Colombian-born interpreter and goddaughter of the Nobel laureate and author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, died July 22 at her home in the District. She was 57.

The cause was complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, said her daughter Gabriela O’Leary.

Zoila Patricia Cepeda Manotas was born in Barranquilla and knew Garcia Marquez through her father, Colombian journalist and author Alvaro Cepeda Samudio. She graduated from Yale University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature.

For many years, Ms. Cepeda was a freelance Spanish interpreter. She interpreted for Garcia Marquez when he met in the United States with political and cultural figures including President Bill Clinton, author William Styron and filmmaker Woody Allen. She also helped then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as a presidential candidate in 2004 when he appeared on the Spanish-language network Univision.

From 2007 to 2012, she was chief interpreter and coordinator of interpretation services at the Organization of American States.

Her first husband was John O’Leary, a lawyer who was mayor of Portland, Maine, and served as Clinton’s ambassador to Chile from 1998 to 2001. He died in 2005 after 27 years of marriage.

In 2011, she married Kenneth Frankel. Besides her husband, survivors include two daughters from her first marriage, Alejandra Dafoe and Gabriela O’Leary, both of the District; and her mother, Teresa Cepeda of Barranquilla.

— Adam Bernstein