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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

College Mourns Passing of Juana Gamero de Coca

Juana Gamero de Coca, an associate professor of Spanish, died unexpectedly last Friday, Oct. 6.

A native of Alburquerque (Badajoz), Spain, Gamero de Coca joined the Middlebury faculty in 2004. She was appointed to a tenure track position in 2006 and received tenure in 2012.

She is survived by two daughters, Izzy Fleming and Carmen Fleming, both Middlebury alumni, and her partner Ricardo Chávez Castañeda, a visiting professor in the Spanish & Portuguese Department.

A memorial service will be held this Saturday, Oct. 14, in Mead Chapel. As of Tuesday evening, a start time has not yet been announced.

Gamero de Coca earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. She authored three books: “Nación y género en la invención de Extremadura: Soñando fronteras de cielo y barro” (Mirabel, 2005), “La mirada monstruosa de la memoria” (Libertarias, 2009), and “Sexualidad, violencia y cultura” (Desde Abajo, 2013).

At the college, she taught courses in literature, film and culture. Her faculty profile says she was “interested in the connection between literature, her field of interest and discipline, and the different social realities that the literary texts intend to grasp.”

This semester, she was teaching a 300-level course entitled, “Spain in the Globalized World,” and a senior seminar entitled, “Culture and Mental Illness.”

In a statement announcing Gamero de Coca’s death, the college included reflections from her colleagues.

“Above all we will miss her warmth: her grand entrances as she greeted colleagues, students, friends. Her radiant smile. Her lovely home, which she opened to so many friends. Her unrelenting support of students and colleagues, no matter if this sometimes placed her in a vulnerable position,” said Gloria Estela González Zenteno, professor of Spanish.

“Her students responded in kind to her authenticity and ethical commitment. She will be deeply missed, and never forgotten.”

“Juana had a particular talent in welcoming our new colleagues in the department, easing their nervousness, making them comfortable, and helping them achieve confidence in their teaching. She loved mentoring her younger colleagues and did so with a personal touch,” said Miguel Fernández, professor of Spanish.

“I recall reflecting after sitting in on one of Juana’s seminars and asking myself how she created such a comfortable environment for her students. It felt like a fireside chat with students digging deeper and deeper into the texts they had read with mutual appreciation and respect. Her students loved sharing in her passion for literature and culture.”

The Campus will publish a more detailed remembrance of Professor Gamero de Coca in the coming weeks. If you have any stories, reflections, or memories you would like to share, please email