Margarito Gonzales Sr.

A Del Rio man tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, his family got to see him through a window at the hospital for the last time, and he died Saturday morning.

As the number of COVID-19 cases is surging, this infectious disease which as of Monday has affected more than 1,100 Del Rioans, with 22 deaths, is becoming more personal, with the numbers turning into faces, names and in some cases … memories.

Margarito Gonzales Sr. was a hard working man, he was a founding member of Beck Steel, a twin plant with facilities in Acuña and Del Rio. Although he retired from his managerial job, up until before the pandemic he’d go and visit the plant as often as he could, Gonzales’ daughter Maribel Calderon recalls.

Calderon said Gonzales’ family wanted to share his story, in an effort to raise awareness among the community and hoping to contribute slow the spread of this infectious disease.

Gonzales’ son, Juan Gonzales, said in a letter his father was recovering from a mild stroke and was referred to physical therapy.

“My father had survived a multi-story fall, diabetes, dialysis, head trauma with a bleed and a heart attack. He was brought to the hospital this time was a mild stroke. My father was a survivor,” Juan states in his letter.

Juan said his father was taken to the intensive care unit, progressive care unit, and COVID unit at Northeast Methodist Live Oak, in San Antonio.

He said it is time now to take this pandemic seriously, and abide by social distancing and face masks guidelines to stop the spread of the virus.

“When will we start taking COVID-19 seriously? I don’t mean individually, as a community, as a state and country? We need to be unified in our response to fight this epidemic. Why do we still see people having to be reminded to wear their mask or keep their distance?

“How many more people we know and love have to be exposed? How many more need to become ill or die from this for us to take it seriously?”

Calderon said Gonzales had a stroke on July 5 and was sent to San Antonio. At the time, she said, he was tested for COVID-19 and came back negative. He was treated and sent to rehab until July 24, when he tested positive for the virus.

“We went there on Friday, and looked at him through a window because we could’t be there, and then the next day he died,” she said.

Calderon said her father started out with Beck Steel when the company was running out of a garage, and became a general manager as the company grew to a multinational corporation until he retired.

She also recalled her father’s passion for the city and everything Del Rio, as he would attend his coffee club at the McDonald’s restaurant on Gibbs Street.

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