He worked for decades in a processing plant. He died of coronvavirus

GREELEY, Colorado, USA (AP) – Saúl Sánchez came to the United States from Mexico to try to save the life of his youngest daughter. He found a new life for himself and his family, a boss who offered to pay for his daughter’s medical treatment, and a rural community that he loved dearly.

He spent decades working alongside other immigrants and refugees at Greeley’s JBS meat processing plant, which was a hotbed for coronavirus infections. When he passed away in April from the virus, the community overwhelmed his family with affection and stories of his compassion.

His eldest daughter, Estela Hernández, says that she did not know to what extent her father’s kindness had reached until a homeless man came to offer his condolences and told him that on one occasion he had given him a blanket and paid him to clear the snow in a winter.

“We will never do everything he did, nor will we have his impact. It has been a great example, ”said Betty Rangel, Sánchez’s second daughter.

His family says that Sánchez was a humble man, devoted to his children, who taught them to be grateful for the opportunities that were presented to them, he always cared about their education and saw how his youngest daughter, Patty, overcome her problem and received herself. nurse.

In the early 1970s, Patty suffered from kidney problems and Sánchez, who at the time ran 15 pharmacies, needed help paying for her medical care. He left Ciudad Juárez in 1972 to work in landscaping in Parker, Colorado. His family joined him in 1976.

“He went from wearing a suit and tie to planting seeds and working a very tough job. He never complained. He always told us that we should appreciate the opportunities that were presented to us, ”said Betty Rangel.

When he came to America to earn enough money to pay for Patty’s medical expenses, he found a boss willing to help him. The owner of the landscaping business paid for the treatment “because he valued my daddy,” Rangel said.

When the family moved to Greeley, he opened the first Mexican bakery in 1992. His father was climbing the JBS USA meat processing plant and sponsored sports teams in the area, as he had done in Juárez.

“He didn’t keep anything, he wanted to give everything he could to the community, to us,” said Estela Hernández.

When money ran out, Betty and Estela offered to drop out and work to help pay the bills. But his father objected. Her education was the top priority, she told them.

Patty Rangel once told her father that she couldn’t afford schoolbooks.

“He handed me the money and said, ‘Don’t worry, your education and what you’re doing is the important thing. I will support you whenever you need it. ‘ He also told me, ‘Don’t buy used, buy new,’ ”Patty recounted.

Sánchez worked a lot of overtime. In what little free time she had, she enjoyed reading, exercising, and going for a morning walk. He once serenaded Patty in front of her house for her birthday … at seven in the morning.

He was a joker — he had lines on his face from so much laughter — and he entertained his family with his sense of humor; He told his wife that his tortillas and beans were the best he had ever eaten and he liked to wear the jersey of the Denver Broncos, the American football team.

In his house, full of family photos and Christian artifacts, all the family festivities were held and met on Saturdays. The house was a gift. It was left to Sánchez by a woman he cared for.

“That was what made my daddy happy. Having us all there, all the time, “said Betty Rangel. “He taught us that family is very important.”

Following his father’s death, the family, along with other families of JBS employees and the meat processing workers’ union, denounced the company, accusing it of failing to take steps to protect employees from the virus.

Six employees have died, including Sánchez, and the union is trying to get the company to pay compensation to their families.

JBS says it is unclear where Sánchez, who was admitted to a hospital on March 24, was infected. His coronavirus test came back positive.

Patty Rangel, the youngest daughter, worked at the hospital as a nurse. The family could not see him to avoid infections, but she was. She put on protective gear and was sitting next to him when the respirator was disconnected. He was 78 years old.

“Was it a blessing to have been there? Yes. Was it very hard? yes. But I can’t imagine not having seen my father before his death. I can’t, ”said the daughter.


Nieberg is part of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News initiative. Report for America is a national non-profit service that seeks to cover news that is not being covered.