BY FRANCISCO GUAJARDO
Edinburg resident Amado Garcia died on Aug. 22, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. He leaves behind the love of his life, his wife of 56 years, Josefa Ochoa Garcia. He is also survived by an adoring family that includes five children, 10 grandchildren, one great-grandson and countless extended family members who bore witness to the life of a good man.
Garcia was the quintessential South Texan. Born and raised in La Reforma, Nuevo Leon, he came to Texas in 1974, wide-eyed and intent on making a good life. After a stint in the oil industry in Houston, he settled in the Rio Grande Valley, and on a tip from an acquaintance, bought a junk yard east of Edinburg.
He turned his modest enterprise, Garcia’s Auto Junkyard, into a sprawling business that included a thriving small-town car lot. Established 32 years ago, the business is still in operation. Garcia was driven by an intense ambition to do right by his God, his family and his community.
Garcia found life experience as his greatest source of learning. He was a student of the Bible and learned to be trilingual. Beyond Spanish, he became functional in English and American Sign Language, because he felt a need to bridge the communication gap with Valley-ites from all walks of life. He was always willing to help people, teaching them how to use their Bible and fix their cars.
His family became his greatest legacy. Like their father, the children work for the public good. His son Abel is on the frontlines as a registered nurse at DHR Health. Abel tells the story of when his father contracted COVID-19. Because of hospital capacity issues, the family opted to send Garcia to San Antonio for treatment, where he succumbed to the virus.
“He had some good days, and he had some bad days,” Abel said. “As I treated an endless line of COVID patients at DHR, I was getting reports about my father’s condition. Not being able to be at my father’s bedside, I saw my father in my patients. I tried even harder to keep them alive!
“We all tried harder. We didn’t give up on anybody, just like I know the hospital in San Antonio would not give up on my father.”
Abel said COVID-19 patients are challenged to communicate.
“They’re in too much pain; they’re masked and unable to tell us anything about their story,” he added.
Fortunately, we can tell Garcia’s story. Abel called him “the greatest man I’ve ever known.” He was also a great teacher: “I learned so much about God, cars and love of neighbor from him. I can remember my father helping stranded strangers in the middle of the night.”
Perhaps Garcia’s example of working for the public good is what moves Abel to be the kind of RN that he is.
On his Facebook page, Abel chronicles his COVID-19 work. When his boss asked, “Abel, can you go to SIDU1 (COVID-19 unit)? They need help!” His response? “I didn’t even let her finish her sentence … I was out the door.”
If this is what Amado Garcia’s progeny does, then there is no doubt he left a valuable legacy. We bear witness to this truth.
Garcia was born on the seventh day of March in 1942 in Doctor Coss, Nuevo Leon, and leaves us as a victim of the pandemic of 2020. He was a humble servant of God.
Que en paz descanse Amado Garcia. Rest in peace.
Francisco Guajardo, chief executive officer for the Museum of South Texas History at 200 N. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg, authored this story as part of an ongoing series entitled Bearing Witness. The museum’s effort aims to document some of the Rio Grande Valley lives lost to COVID-19. For more information about the museum, visit MOSTHistory.org.