Former Roslyn schools language head, beloved educator Ortega dies at 69

Guillermo A. Ortega, a longtime instructor of Spanish in the Roslyn School District, died last week at age 69. (Photo courtesy of the Ortega family)

Guillermo A. Ortega, a language educator who spent the majority of his teaching career in the Roslyn school district, has died at 69.

Ortega was “surrounded by his loving family” when he died on Friday, according to his daughter Sydney Ortega.

Born Feb. 2, 1951, in Havana, Cuba, Ortega, known as Bill to family and friends, was the son of the late Jeane and Guillermo Ortega. In 1963, along with his parents, brothers, grandmother and aunt, Ortega immigrated to the United States in a Cuban-American exchange following the Bay of Pigs invasion. The family was sponsored by St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in White Plains in Westchester County, where they began their life as American citizens.

After receiving his undergraduate degree and master’s degree from SUNY Oneonta, where he played on the soccer team, Ortega began working as a Spanish teacher at Roslyn High School in 1974, where he would remain for 33 years until his retirement in 2007. Students would address him as “Señor,” and in addition to serving as chairperson of the foreign languages department for the school district, he was inducted into the Roslyn High School chapter of the National Honor Society.

In addition to teaching and his family, Ortega’s greatest passions included soccer, coaching and music. He attended the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in what his family called a highlight of his life.

Ortega is survived by his wife of 26 years, Jane Giard of Narragansett, Rhode Island; his three children, Sydney Ortega of Danvers, Massachusetts, Taylor (Amanda) Ortega of Grantham, New Hampshire, Trevor Ortega of Narragansett; his brothers Raul (Nancy Ruzow) Ortega of Westport, Connecticut, and George Ortega of White Plains; nieces Samantha (Colin) Winkelman of New York City, Rachael Ortega of Brooklyn, and Victoria Cesino of Boston, Massachusetts, nephew Justin Cesino of Providence, Rhode Island; and great-nephew Soren Winkelman.

The Ortega family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the Paul LeSueur Legacy Foundation in Garden City or Backyard Sports Cares in White Plains.

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Rose Weldon

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