By Alicia Perez, Special to the Gazette
Yolanda Peña, a baker known for generously offering her Dominican cakes to children and businesses in Egleston Square, died on Aug. 6 at age 65.
Born May 5, 1946 in the Dominican Republic, Yolanda moved to the United States in 1976 and started a pioneering Dominican cake business in her Dalrymple Street home.
As a wife of Thomas Peña, mother of four, and grandmother of three, Yolanda operated her cake business from her kitchen. She had a wide collection of cakes, including for weddings birthdays and baptisms. All were Dominican style with fruit flavoring, and with her own touch in design.
Yolanda’s son, Roberto Peña, described his mother as “una luchadora,” a fighter. She was one of the first people to bring the Dominican cake business to Boston. Roberto said his mother was famous in the community for her cake business and everyone loved her. She would often drop by local businesses and leave free cakes.
In addition to her cake business, Roberto said, Yolanda also had in impact in the community by having a part in planning the Dominican Festival.
Harry Perez, owner of the Plaza Meat Market on Boylston Street, said he knew Yolanda not only for her cake business, but also for her charity. She provided him with a refrigerator for his store in 2007 when he was in need of one. He said that “many people who turned a year older in the ’80s and ’90s celebrated their birthday with one of her cakes.”
Regina Vidil, a good friend and neighbor of Yolanda, met Yolanda when she first came to the United States in the ’70s. She described Yolanda as always being available when someone was in need. When residents moved into the neighborhood from the Dominican Republic, Vidil said, she was the first person on the scene to help.