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Waco ISD employee who died after contracting COVID-19 leaves behind legacy of volunteerism

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 2:37 AM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A thirty-year employee of the Waco Independent School District who died after contracting COVID-19 is being remembered for her service to the community.

Gloria Gonzales, 71, started her career with WISD in 1989 as an instruction aide and ended it as a clerk at Kendrick Elementary School.

“Friends and colleagues remember Gloria as a loving soul who always displayed so much happiness and brought joy to those around her,” district officials said in a statement. “She will truly be missed.”

One of the things she’ll be missed for most, is her volunteerism.

“Everyone’s heartbroken,” said Thomas Ledbetter, Director of Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry of Robinson. “They miss her, here at the pantry she was a part of our family.”

Gonzales and her husband Frank started volunteering at Shepherd’s Heart about five years ago, said Ledbetter.

“She was our registrar, so every new client that came in her for food she got to meet, and of course she was bi-lingual so that helped us out a lot, and her smile made the clients very much at ease,” said Ledbetter. “She’s like the angel of the food pantry because she’s always got a sweet spirit.”

After returning home from a COVID-19 hospitalization, Gonzales passed away suddenly on Sunday, Ledbetter said.

“It was very sudden, so it was not a good time for us this week,” said Ledbetter. “She is our numbers lady, she helps me keep up with the numbers and the amount of people that come in and how much food is going out, and generally she kind of helps me and tells me how to do things, I am going to miss her very, very much, I don’t know how I’m going to fill in for her.”

This week is one of the most important of the year for the pantry which participates in KWTX’s Food For Families food drive on Friday and then has it’s annual turkey giveaway on Saturday.

This would have been Gonzales’ sixth Food For Families.

“She would be telling us, ‘it’s okay, you’re alright, just keep doing the same things you’ll be doing and I’ll be here if you need me,’” said Ledbetter.

Ledbetter says she’ll be sorely missed, not only for her work but for her attitude and heart.

“The one thing she’s taught our folks here is that volunteering is not a chore, but it’s a joy, and I think her legacy is going to be to serve others and to be a blessing to them,” he said.

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