Maria Cortes Gonzalez
El Paso Times
Family and friends are heartbroken over the death of retired Fire Lt. Ruben Flores Jr. to the coronavirus Jan. 9. He was 55 years old.
He tested positive on Nov. 22with mild symptoms that quickly worsened. He was hospitalized on Sunday, Nov. 29and was put in the intensive care unit on Dec. 4, suffering a collapsed lung which led to sedation and intubation.
Flores Jr. had been in the El Paso Fire Departmentfor 25 years and had served at the fire station in the Lower Valley.
“He loved everything about it. Ruben’s purpose in life was helping people. If you look at all the posts, everyone talks about him helping. He was definitely a doer,” said his wife of 35 years,Beckie Flores.
It was a natural transition for Flores Jr. to want to continue serving people after his retirement through his Catholic faith.
Almost five years ago, he entered the Catholic Diocese’sPermanent Diaconate program and was going to be ordained in August.
Beckie Floressaid her husband felt like he had a second chance at life in 2001 when he was hit by a drunk driver and survived. He decided to start being more active in church, teaching confirmation classes and helping with retreats.
“Just as much as his passion for the fire department, he loved the kids and he wanted to make a difference in their lives and be a role model and be somebody they could look up to and come to with whatever, never any judgement,” she said.
“Ruben’s happiest times were praising God, doing God’s work and anything having to do with church,” she said. He was part of the Holy Name Society.
The Diocese expressed its condolences on Twitter.
The Diocese of El Pasois saddened at the loss of Lt. Ruben Flores, Candidate for the Permanent Diaconate and El Paso Fire Departmentchaplain. Lt. Flores was a parishioner of Mt. Carmel Parish. Our prayers are with Lt. Flores’ family and all of our parishioners from Mt. Carmel. pic.twitter.com/e59N3lFr8Y
— The Catholic Diocese of El Paso(@elpasodiocese) January 10, 2021
He was a 1984 graduate of Ysleta High Schoolwho still enjoyed supporting and rooting for the Indians on Friday football nights.
Flores Jr. was known for always smiling and wasn’t afraid to be ridiculous to get a laugh, his wife said.
“There are few pictures of him with a serious face. We have pictures of him where he tuerce los ojos (crosses his eyes) or sticks out his tongue,” she said. “He wanted joy and happiness for everybody.”
And Flores Jr., who worked the security booth for the University of Texas at El Paso’sParking and Transportation Departmentfor five years, made a lot of acquaintances over the years.
A simple trip to Home Depot became a long affair with Flores Jr. always running into people he knew, his family said.
Flores said they do not know how he caught the coronavirus. He was very diligent about hand-washing, wearing his face mask and sanitizing because she is the one with underlying conditions. She has diabetes.
“We didn’t go anywhere. He went to the grocery store and he still was very concerned for me,” she said. “We didn’t want COVID to enter our house because there are still so many unknowns about it and it is such a horrid, horrid thing.”
Beckie Floressaid she also caught the coronavirus, and was hospitalized for a couple of days, but her case was mild.
Flores said she is relying on her faith and her numerous support systems to get through the pain of losing her husband.
“My faith is definitely what is getting me through. …. and I hear Ruben in my head. ‘It’s going to be O.K. you’re strong’.” she said.
He is survived by wife Beckie Flores; children Garron, Selina and Ruben Flores; and three grandchildren, Messina, Alina and Harlee Rose.
The family has set up a GoFundMeaccount to help with the funeral expenses. Funeral arrangements are pending.
More: Faces of COVID-19: More than 1,000 lives lost in El Pasoin the coronavirus pandemic
More: El Paso Countycoronavirus update: 7 more deaths, 561 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday
María Cortés González may be reached at 915-546-6150; [email protected]; @EPTMaria on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: ‘He wanted joy and happiness for everybody’: Retired El Paso fire lieutenant dies of COVID-19
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