Vera Clemente, wife of former Pirates star outfielder, dies |

Vera Clemente, wife of former Pirates star outfielder, dies

Bill Hartlep
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Vera Clemente hugs Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen during a ceremony on Roberto Clemente Day before a game against the Cubs on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, at PNC Park. Vera Clemente died Saturday at age 81.

Vera Clemente, the widow of former Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente, died Saturday at age 78.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Vera Clemente, the widow of the great Roberto Clemente and a cherished member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball family,” Pirates chairman of the board Bob Nutting said in a statement.

“Vera epitomized grace, dignity and strength in the wake of heartbreaking tragedy and loss. Following Roberto’s passing, Vera raised their three sons into outstanding young men, while also working tirelessly to ensure her and her husband’s vision of compassion, service and love of others lived on forever.”

Vera Clemente was hospitalized and in delicate health, the Pirates announced Nov. 1.

She served as the chairwoman of the Roberto Clemente Foundation. She also traveled on behalf of MLB as a Goodwill Ambassador.

“As a Goodwill Ambassador for MLB, Vera impacted countless children and extended her family’s humanitarian legacy of helping those in need,” said MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. in a statement. “With grace and strength, she led the way in welcoming players to the fraternity of Roberto Clemente Award winners, the single most prestigious off-the-field honor in our game.”

She hosted a telethon in Puerto Rico to raise funds for Ciudad Roberto Clemente, a sporting complex in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Vera and Roberto Clemente were married Nov. 14, 1963. Roberto Clemente went on to play 18 seasons in the majors and was selected to 15 All-Star games as part of a Hall of Fame career.

He became known worldwide for his charity work in Latin America and Caribbean countries in the offseason.

On Dec. 31, 1972, he died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

His wife continued to be a Goodwill Ambassador in his name.

She is survived by three sons: Roberto Clemente Jr., Luis Clemente and Roberto Enrique.

“Vera was an amazing ambassador for the Pirates organization, our city, the game of baseball and their beloved Puerto Rico,” Nutting said. “It is with very heavy hearts that we send our condolences to Roberto Jr., Luis, Enrique and the entire Clemente family. May they find comfort in knowing that Vera and Roberto are together once again.”

Condolences quickly surfaced on social media:

Bill Hartlep is a Tribune-Review sports editor. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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