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A Gypsy’s Tale

The word that best describes Society of 1899 member Carolina Baron is “passionate.” Throughout her life she has followed her heart, and it has led her on a remarkable journey. As a young girl, she was fascinated by bullfighting. She explains she was not particularly interested in conquering the animal. Instead, she was attracted by the pageantry of the proceedings: the way matadors move their capes and how they engage the spectators. So she moved to Mexico, lived at a bullring and began training to become one of the first female bullfighters. A serious injury caused her to reconsider her initial career choice.

Seeking something that would combine her athletic stamina with her artistic nature, she decided to take up Flamenco dancing. To immerse herself in this unique art form, she traveled to southern Spain and lived with a gypsy family to absorb their complex musical and cultural traditions. Carolina was a quick study and soon she was performing in clubs throughout Spain.

In a famous Flamenco night club called Arco de Cuchilleros, Jose Greco saw Carolina dancing. He was so moved by her spirited performance, he rushed backstage and announced “You are going to be my new dance partner.” For nearly a decade she toured with Jose Greco as a headliner and his dance partner.

She danced her way around the world, thrilling audiences throughout Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia – performing for heads of state and international figures along the way. After shows, she would go clubbing, dancing the night away with friends Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Esther Williams, Mitzi Gaynor, and other celebrities from the screen and stage.

While performing she met and married Manolo Baron, a Spanish Baron and renowned Flamenco guitarist and composer. She tells the story that as a newlywed she was surprised to find her husband practicing music all day and performing all night. When she asked why he married her, he told her it was because she looked like a guitar! Her exotic look inspired images by a number of Spanish artists including Andres Cillero, Julio de Diego and the great Salvador Dali.

Although she had a home in San Juan de Aznalfarache (on the outskirts of Seville) and a home in Madrid, Carolina lived the gypsy life of a dancer, traveling from booking to booking.

On an extended contract in London, she became homesick for the dogs she had to leave back in Spain and she began attending dog shows. Some fans recognized her and offered to give her a dog. She declined the gift, but suggested she would be interested in taking some dog grooming lessons. She learned she had a new talent and when she returned to Spain she began breeding, grooming and showing champion dogs.

When her mother contracted cancer, Carolina moved to New York to be at her side. She established the Dog Charm Studio in lower Westchester. Eventually her mom was hospitalized and when the doctors could do nothing more to contain the cancer, Carolina sought a place which would provide comfortable end-of-life care.

Carolina still remembers the day her mother was transferred from the hospital to Calvary. To ease the disappointment of not being able to be discharged back home, the Calvary staff told her mother she could have anything she wanted for dinner. Taking them at their word, she ordered lobster. To Carolina’s astonishment and delight, when dinner arrived, on her mother’s plate was a freshly steamed lobster!

Calvary’s Pastoral Care Department played an important role in comforting and counseling Carolina and her mother. Grateful for the care and spiritual support her mother received at Calvary, Carolina decided to leave a bequest for Calvary in her will. Carolina is pleased to be able to add her support so that others can experience Calvary’s loving-kindness and expert medical attention when they need it. Carolina is also impressed with the hospital’s implementation of its Calvary@Home division, which offers a growing numbers of patients the option of home hospice care.

Today, Carolina considers herself blessed with the best of both worlds. She is able to pursue her two loves simultaneously: grooming dogs throughout the day; and dancing at private parties and in ballroom venues in the evening hours. It is hard to predict where her passions will lead her next, but she confides she dreams in Spanish.

To learn more about Planned Giving opportunities, please call 718-518-2000, ext. 2689