Home Precision Agriculture Remembering the Food Workers We’ve Lost to COVID-19 Part 2

Remembering the Food Workers We’ve Lost to COVID-19 Part 2


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an incalculable toll on the meals trade employees of America, from restaurant servers and meat plant employees to the farmworkers who toil in fields. In accordance to analysis from the College of California, San Francisco, meals trade employees’ danger of dying went up by 40 p.c from March to October 2020. For Latinx employees, deaths elevated by 60 p.c in the sector.

On this six-part collection, we’re honoring the lives of these now we have misplaced to COVID-19. This week, now we have tributes to a contract farmer who cherished to cook dinner, an Iowa cattle farmer and a chili plant employee who additionally grew his personal meals.


Photograph courtesy of Cecilia Rey.

Humberto Rey

Humberto Rey all the time made certain everybody in his life was nicely fed. All through his 30-year profession as a contract farmer, his daughter Cecilia remembers he all the time saved a totally stocked ice chest in his truck for all his employees to get pleasure from. “He had drinks, fruit and all kinds of little sweet things that he would carry and say, ‘If you’re hungry or you’re thirsty, help yourself, there’s plenty,” she says.

Cooking was Rey’s ardour, and plenty of of his household’s reminiscences are centered round a desk of his house cooking. Cecilia says she, her 4 siblings and their youngsters would collect at Rey’s home on Sundays for an enormous breakfast and lunch unfold.

He took his cooking so critically that when his spouse had a storage and recreation room added to their house, Rey outfitted it fully with kitchen home equipment, tossing out a pool desk to make room for a stainless-steel range, a fridge and sink. “That was his favorite room. He was always in there,” says Cecilia.

After years of working in farming—tending to fields of chilis, onions, cabbage and pumpkins—and cooking for his household, Rey determined to flip his ardour into his profession. He began up a meals truck, Burritos Categorical, about three years in the past.

Rey was born in Mexico and got here to the US when he was 16. He met his spouse, additionally named Cecilia, they usually raised their household in the small city of Hatch, N.M. The couple was residing in the close by city of Hugo, working the in style meals truck this previous July when Rey contracted COVID-19.

He was admitted to the Memorial Medical Middle in Las Cruces, N.M. and died of issues from the virus on July 22. He was 56. Rey is survived by his spouse, his youngsters—Cecilia, Humberto Jr., Efren, Eduardo and Ibonne—19 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Rey, an energetic individual and avid biker, was all the time wholesome earlier than he contracted the virus, and his dying shocked his close-knit household, who miss his infectious smile, caregiving nature and wonderful cooking. For Rey’s birthday this April—the household’s first with out him—his family gathered to cook dinner his favourite meals and lightweight up fireworks in his honor. “We wanted to celebrate it like if he were here,” says Cecilia.


Photograph courtesy of Vicki Hamdorf.

Larry Dewell

For Larry Dewell, farming was a household affair. 

Born in 1937, Dewell grew up on his household’s farm simply north of Clarence, Iowa. 

Dewell and his spouse of 61 years, Arnola, who goes by “Nonie,” raised 4 children on their very own farm, positioned inside a mile of Dewell’s brother and father’s farm. 

With an easygoing, slow-to-anger persona, Dewell bought together with everybody. His daughter Vicki Hamdorf remembers how graciously he taught his youngsters the ins and outs of farm life. “Dad was always extremely patient with all of us. He enjoyed having us out there working on the farm with him,” she says.

Dewell’s favourite—and the most distinguished side—of his farm was elevating cattle, a ardour he  handed on to his children, who all grew up elevating and exhibiting calves in the county truthful. 

Throughout the farm disaster in 1980, Dewell took a job at a co-op in Clarence, the place he operated a grain elevator, in accordance to Vicki. Dewell labored there for greater than 20 years till he was75, when a collection of well being issues made retiring his solely choice. “He would have still been working if he could,” says Vicki. “He just didn’t like to sit still.” 

Regardless of his work ethic, Vicki says Dewell all the time made time for his youngsters. He by no means missed a recital or recreation. 

Final 12 months, Dewell moved right into a seniors middle a couple of block away from the house he lived in with Nonie. When it closed to guests due to the pandemic, his spouse was nonetheless decided to see him, and he or she would stroll over each day to deliver him cookies and say hi there via a window. 

This previous October, the household discovered that COVID-19 had gotten into the seniors middle. Dewell caught pneumonia after which COVID-19. Dewell died of issues from the illness on Nov. 5. He was 83. Dewell leaves behind his spouse, youngsters—Rory, Vicki, Daybreak, and Reece— 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren—a giant household that Dewell cherished. 

“His favorite thing was our family Christmases. There were right around 50 people the last few years, and he always wanted to get a picture with his family,” says Vicki. “He always had to have that picture on this wall. He was just so proud.”


Photograph courtesy of Carolina Garcia.

Jose Garcia


When Jose Garcia immigrated to the United States at the age of 17, he was decided to make a very good life for his spouse, Genoveva Garcia Martinez, and his future household.

Fiercely loyal and a tough employee by nature, Garcia bought a job at Cervantes Enterprises, a chili plant in Vado, N.M., the place he labored for his complete profession—for greater than 50 years, says his daughter Carolina Garcia. Garcia discovered nice pleasure in his work. “My dad, being out there in his tractor, in those fields, it would help him to just clear his mind. I think he really, really enjoyed that,” says Carolina.

Garcia was born on Sept. 16, 1952 in Canatlán, a metropolis in Durango, Mexico. Of their first few years, the Garcias lived in a two-bedroom home owned by Cervantes Enterprises. He and his spouse struggled to conceive for practically seven years earlier than occurring to have 10 youngsters. 

The home was surrounded by the fields Garcia labored, Carolina says. She remembers her dad coming house with armfuls or fruits of his onerous day’s labor—pecans, corn, watermelon, something he might deliver again for his children to get pleasure from. 

Garcia was a supplier, and as the household grew, he knew they’d want an even bigger area, so he constructed his household a bigger house along with his personal arms. Throughout the summers, Garcia made certain his youngsters bought out into the fields, too. “We would pick pecan and chilis. He wanted us to see what hard work is,” says Carolina.

Even when a job was executed for the day, Garcia might by no means appear to cease working, spending hours planting and gardening on his days off. On the uncommon event the household might get him to chill out, Garcia cherished being out in nature, taking his spouse to purchase flowers and simply being with household—typically at cookouts and barbecues.

Garcia labored tirelessly his complete life till final November, when he examined constructive for COVID-19. Garcia was admitted to Memorial Medical Middle in Las Cruces, N.M. Carolina, a nurse at the hospital for 12 years, was ready to verify in on him in the hospital. She was the solely member of the family allowed to go to. 

Garcia died from issues of the virus on Dec. 15, 2020. He was 68. Garcia is survived by his spouse, two sons—Jose and Andres—seven daughters—Carolina, Corina, Consuelo, Raquel, Erika, Sandra and Adriana—28 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Garcia’s prime precedence all through his life was to give his youngsters each alternative to do something they wished. “My dad came to the United States with that dream of doing something and providing for his family,” Carolina says.  “And he definitely did.”


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