Olive Virginia Yazid
November 26, 1928 - April 5, 2020
On Sunday April 5th, 2020, Olive Virginia Yazid, née LaGuardia, passed away peacefully in her home in Newark, Delaware, at the age of 92.
Olive was born in the Bronx, New York City, to Cincinato Giovanni Battista LaGuardia and Olive Florence LaGuardia, née Repath. Her childhood was blessed with the cheerfully raucous exchanges of large extended family gatherings, and a rich trove of cousins of all ages.
A graduate of Smith College, Olive’s passion for the written word, politics and travel drew her into a career in international journalism. It was through her work as a journalist at the United Nations Arab Information Center that she met her husband, Algerian diplomat M’hammed Yazid, who was at the United Nations representing the Algerian Liberation Front. The two married on February 28th, 1959 and moved to Tunisia soon after, where they stayed until Algerian independence was achieved in 1962. The couple then moved back to M’hammed’s hometown of Blida, before heading off to Beirut, Lebanon with their three children: Hediya, Leila, and Zoubir. After completing M’hammed’s assignment as Ambassador there in the late 1970s, they settled down in the Algerian capital of Algiers. Over the years, her letters home to her mother and her sister Dorothy Maria blended family news, children’s photographs, and accounts of her encounters with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Ted Kennedy, Eldridge Cleaver, and Mohammed Ali.
Following in the footsteps of her mother and father, both of whom were educators, Olive would later begin to teach English to students at the American Language Institute in Algiers, a career which she would continue at the University of Delaware English Language Institute in Newark, Delaware upon her return to the United States in 1994. Having learned French and Arabic as an adult, she understood the challenges her students faced, and taught them in a way that made clear how equally excited she was to learn about their backgrounds and personal stories.
Olive continued to teach until her retirement in February of 2015. Never one to be idle, she immediately began working on a family history, to be passed on to her grandchildren. To her six grandchildren, she was quite the school report subject, with roots spanning Italy, Argentina, England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States, and a life journey that took her to North Africa, the Middle East and back. Her stories continued to grow as she traveled back to Algeria, visited friends in France, and followed her globe-trotting son in his own journeys around the world.
Olive will be remembered for her love of family, her strength of character, her indominable will, and—perhaps above all—for her exceptional commitment to tennis and to the Sunday New York Times. She was fiercely proud of her children and grandchildren, loved her long chats with her dear cousins and childhood friends, and will be sorely missed.
She was preceded in death by her dear sister, Dorothy Maria Gillespie, and her husband M’hammed Yazid. She is survived by her three children, Hediya Yazid, Leila (Faouzi) Hamroun, and Zoubir (Erika) Yazid, and her six grandchildren, Mehdi, Mahel, Halim, Neil, Nawel and Jasmine.
The immediate funeral services and burial will be private. The family plans to hold a larger memorial service at a later date, which has yet to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Olive’s dedication to education be honored by contributing to the programs of the “Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County” either online at
https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E350267&id=3 or by sending a check to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County at 212 Centre Street, Trenton, NJ 08611.