A woman originally from Gander has shared a vivid childhood memory of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Castro died Friday night at the age of 90.

Geraldine Maloney told CBC Radio's Weekend AM on Saturday that the Cuban leader was a frequent visitor to Gander International Airport when she was a child, and he was often spotted around town.

Maloney said as it turns out, Castro loved snow. 

In fact, one winter day in the mid-1960s, she shared a tobogganing hill with him in her hometown.

"He was really dressed warmly, because naturally he wasn't used to that climate, especially Gander. Gander used to get pretty cold winters and a lot of snow," she said. 

"He was pretty muffed up, but he was all excited. He was like a child when it came to getting on the toboggan and going for a run."

Castro, other celebrities were seen often

Maloney said when Gander was the "Crossroads of the World," Castro was seen frequently.

She said it wasn't unusual to see movie stars or Queen Elizabeth II come through the airport on a fairly regular basis, adding it was quite fascinating for an eight or nine-year-old child. 

'He was like a child when it came to getting on the toboggan and going for a run.' - Geraldine Maloney

"A lot of flights were stopping in Gander. At that time, Gander was really in its heyday. It was quite an interesting place to grow up," Maloney said.

"You had all these famous people going through. In the springtime once the roads were fine, every Sunday afternoon we'd walk to the airport, and there would be flights in from all over the world. It captivated you with the smells of the cigars, the smells of the perfume and the clothes they had on."

Fidel Castro in the Gander airport gift shop

Fidel Castro, visiting the gift shop at Gander International Airport, in 1976. (Gander Historical Society)

With files from Heather Barrett