2007-05-27 15:08:59 UTC
Isis Margarita Finlay, a one-time ''Miss Cuba'' whose pageant success
inspired in her a love of world travel, died Thursday afternoon after
sustaining injuries in an automobile accident. She was 73.
A Miami-area resident since 1975 -- she most recently called
Westchester home -- Finlay never meant to be a beauty queen, her son-
in-law, Jeremy Fisher, said.
'It was on a dare, somebody said, `I dare you to go in and try this
contest,' '' Fisher said of the 1954 Miss Cuba competition.
Finlay took the crown. Her prize: a trip to Long Beach, Calif., for
the third-ever Miss Universe pageant. A lifetime filled with traveling
followed, Fisher said. Finlay traveled to 51 nations on six
Black-and-white photos from her ''Miss Cuba'' period are nowadays sold
as collectibles on eBay.
One such photo notes her status as ``niece of the Great Cuban Wiseman
Carlos J. Finlay.''
A well-known Cuban doctor who lived from 1833 to 1915, Carlos Finlay
was indeed Isis' distant uncle, Fisher said.
Carlos Finlay is credited with identifying mosquitoes as the means of
transmitting yellow fever.
An elementary school in Southwest Miami-Dade is named after Dr.
Its mascot: a textbook-carrying mosquito named ``Skeeter.''
After her stint as a beauty queen, Isis spent years working as a job
training and unemployment specialist for the Florida Department of
Labor and Employment Security.
Isis Finlay, her son-in-law recalled, ``loved to travel, cook, laugh,
''Heaven came calling,'' he said. ``Nobody would question if she had
lived a wonderful life, nor if she were loved.''
Isis Finlay is survived by four children -- Jeffrey, Isis, July and
Doris -- as well as four grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at noon on Monday at the Caballero
Rivero Woodlawn funeral home, 11655 SW 117th Ave., Miami-Dade.
BY MICHAEL VASQUEZ