ALTON, IL (KTVI)-- A Red Cross volunteer who spent his life giving to others is killed in a freak accident, crushed by his own car.
Richard Gonzales, 78, was born in Mexico and raised in Alton. He was one of 11 children who made his family proud. The avid baseball player joined the Army and played overseas with other veterans. His niece, Nancy Gonzales, says the man they called Uncle Vic was special he shared his heart with everyone he met.
“He taught us how to be respectful to others and how to be family. Family was his main key,” said Nancy.
Tragedy struck Tuesday while Gonzales was delivering a Valentine’s Day card to a relative. That`s when the car he was driving somehow accidentally rolled backwards pinning him against a telephone pole crushing his chest, the accident killed him. Gonzales' sister Juanita says giving holiday cards and gifts is what he loved to do.
“All of the money he made, he made sure he gave to others and not himself,” said Cruz.
Gonzales worked for the Amoco refinery in Alton. After retirement he became a volunteer joining the Red Cross in 1997, going to more than 50 assignments. One of the most memorable is his trip to the Pentagon after the September 11th attacks. He donated a work shirt he was given at his post to the local Red Cross to symbolize his service.
Family members says it`s a tragic loss, but there is one life lesson taught by Uncle Vic that will stay with them forever.
“Material things do not matter, its family that matters. Its people how you treat people, good or bad,” Cruz said.
Visitation is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15th at Gent Funeral Home in Alton, IL.
A memorial mass is set for Saturday, February 16th at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Alton, IL. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to St. Mary's Catholic Church Youth Group, St. Francis Catholic Church Youth Group, Holy Ghost Catholic Church Youth Group and Zion Lutheran Church Youth Group in Bethalto. Donations to Autismspeaks.org in the name of Abby Cruz are also welcome.
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