The Wonderful Life of Romeo Daniel Matara
Romeo Daniel Matara was born in Romania on February 11, 1964, to Sevastian and Elisabeta Matara. He was named after the classic "Romeo & Juliet", and Sevastian's co-workers Romeo & Daniel. Elisabeta liked Daniel as well because of the Bible. It was Elisabeta's idea to give him both names. Romeo was the oldest sibling of Sorin Matara and Angelica Matara.
Romeo's parents, with their three children left communist Romania just before the food shortage by train the day before their approved diplomatic paperwork to leave the country was going to expire. The United States approved their political asylum to immigrate to the land of opportunity on April 28th, 1983. They first traveled to Rome, Italy for two weeks, and then the Catholic church sponsored the flight and set them up in an apartment in Glendale, California. Romeo would always proudly say, ”we landed in Glendale and never left”.
Romeo was nineteen years old when he arrived and basically came with the clothes on his back, not knowing a word of English. His first job was at Naugles Tacos & Burgers, where he learned how to say “Coca Cola, and easy on the Ice". He then signed up for ESL classes at Glendale Community College, where he made several lifelong friends. He would recall how he would walk to the local grocery store because there was air conditioning on those scorching summer days and read all the car magazines. He was amazed the first time he went to an American grocery store, and there was so much food, and the produce was perfectly beautifully stacked, he said it was just unbelievable.
Romeo and I met in 1987. Our first unofficial date was on May 28th that year, when a group of his friends, and my friends, met up to dance at a typical 1980s restaurant dance club. We were both attending Glendale Community College and later CSUN where Romeo earned his degrees in Electronics and computers.
After about four years of dating before he asked me to be the mother of his children and casually proposed marriage to me. We were married on August 9, 1992, and immediately started saving to purchase our first home. Our first son, Alexander, was born a year later, on August 10th --a lovely anniversary blessing. The Northridge earthquake through off our plans as his business had a setback, but live happily moved forward, and we were blessed with a beautiful Christmas gift, our daughter, Brianna, born on December 19th, 1994.
Romeo then worked at Texaco gas station 2-days a week, and I was a waitress while both of us were going to school part-time. Later he would work at Computer Palace, where he met many of his lifelong friends and business partners, and eventually did freelance work setting up hardware PCs before becoming a programmer.
Romeo started using his middle name Daniel after graduating college because it was more professional and had fewer jokes, “Romeo wherefore art thou” and “Where’s Juliet?”. He was a computer consultant for ARCO Refinery, Bank of America, and Kaiser Permanente, among other companies in his early days as a computer programmer.
This job allowed him to buy their 1st and current home in the Verdugo Woodlands of Glendale, California, closing escrow on their wedding anniversary in 1995. Coincidentally across the street from a friend’s house, where he had attended a Sweet 16 party in the mid-1980s. He was impressed with how beautiful the area was, and how green it was. He used to think “wow, what a great neighborhood, and how lucky and blessed it would be to live on this street in this area in one of these homes.” We were driving by, just making a U-turn, and saw the for-sale sign and grabbed a flyer. We put an offer in that night without ever stepping a foot inside the house. It would be a dream home where many beautiful memories were made.
There have been lots of parties over the years, Easter, Halloween, and birthdays, where Romeo was the chief, cooking all kinds of delicious meals. He loved Thanksgiving and cooking and trying new recipes. In the past few months, he would teach Alex and me how to make several of his favorite dishes, soup, pastries, and even crepes.
Romeo loved his cars and had a couple of used 914 Porsches in the early days, then a minivan for Eveline and the kids. Then in 1998, he purchased his dream car, a Porsche Carrera S because it was the last air-cooled model. He thought after putting a deposit down on buying a house, that he shouldn't spend more money to get a Porsche; however, his dad said to buy it and enjoy it, so he did. So many wonderful memories were made in that Porsche and others: from taking the children to Palm Springs, driving along the coast, to Yosemite, or to Solvang just to have a raspberry éclair.
Every other summer, we would take a road trip without a set schedule or specific destination in mind, but rather this year, we decided to head East. We drove towards Colorado, then north towards Canada, visiting just about half of the United States, including all the National Parks on the west coast from big sky county, Montana, or South Dakota Mount Rushmore during the Sturgis motorcycle rally, which was interesting with young children. In the alternate years, Alexander and Brianna would go to Romania with their grandparents for three months, and we would join them for a few weeks and visit several other countries in Europe.
All in all, Romeo came to America with only “the clothes on his back and no language” as he would say, and took all the opportunities available for someone willing to work hard, which he did. He had an amazing life, raising two beautiful children, that he was so proud of and loved dearly. Although his life was way too short, it was filled with accomplishments and surrounded by love from friends and family.
We will miss you so much!! -Eveline Matara