CHICAGO – The Little Village community is mourning the loss of a beloved man who ran a corner store for over 40 years.
Coronavirus claimed the life of Jesus “Don Chuy” Gutierrez, who ran Valera’s Groceries with his wife in Little Village.
Along with the milk and eggs, his children said Gutierrez handed out advice, necessaries for underprivileged neighbors, candy for kids with good grades and other kind acts over the years.
“That’s who he is, that’s who he was and that’s how we’re going to remember him,” son Jaime Gutierrez said.
Three weeks ago, Gutierrez ended up in the hospital after contracting coronavirus.
His family says he was otherwise in good health – but he told them it felt like someone was stepping on his chest. He died Friday at the age of 79.
“My goodbye from him was letting him go through those doors in a wheelchair and physically that was the last I saw on him. This situation is not something I would wish on anyone,” his son said.
As news of his death spread on social media, his family hung a banner outside and a memorial grew in from of the store Gutierrez loved.
“It’s just an outpouring of love and support and it’s overwhelming,” said daughter Sonia Gutierrez. “Feels really good.”
His children say Gutierrez was a man of deep faith and sharp memory. Gutierrez remembered everyone’s names and their families.
“He may not be behind the cash register, but his memory will be,” his son said. “His spirit is still with us.”
His body will be driven through the neighborhood before he’s laid to rest on Friday.
Due to the restrictions on gatherings, no more than ten people can attend the burial.
Gutierrez leaves behind his wife, four adult children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His family said they’ll try to maintain the store as his legacy.
Block Club Chicago was first to report on the passing of Gutierrez.