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caption: Reyna and David Cruz were married for 21 years. They met when David offered to help Reyna move out of an apartment. She gave him a fake phone number three times but he was insistent, Reyna said. She told David years later, "If I die, if I'm born again, I'll get married with you again."
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Reyna and David Cruz were married for 21 years. They met when David offered to help Reyna move out of an apartment. She gave him a fake phone number three times but he was insistent, Reyna said. She told David years later, "If I die, if I'm born again, I'll get married with you again."
Credit: Enrique Pérez de la Rosa/NWPB

David Cruz, 60, farmworker, dad, and Yakima resident

Our series Coronavirus in Memoriam remembers lives lost in the pandemic. You can share an obituary of someone special to you by filling out the form at the bottom of this story.

D

avid Cruz was raised in Mexico City and came to the U.S. at age 25 to work in the Yakima Valley.

"He was always happy, working in the fields, working in the warehouse, he was always happy," said Reyna Cruz, his wife of 21 years. "He never complained for nothing — he always said he liked the job. My husband, he was a very, very good father."

She recalls the first time they met. He asked for her number and she gave him a fake one, several times, "because I was not ready to have a relationship you know — I want to focus on my kids," Reyna said.

The fourth time she finally gave him the right one. They started dating, got married, and had a daughter along with three children from Reyna’s previous relationship. Reyna says they were happy together.

The pandemic was declared in March. Agricultural workers worried they would get sick either in the fields or working in warehouses. Around that time, David told his wife, "I'm so scared to go to work."

I said, "Forget about the bills." But he said, "No, how am I gonna do it?" Reyna said. They agreed to start sleeping in different parts of the house to avoid infecting each other.

He said, "Reyna, we're gonna go to sleep on the other side because in the warehouse, some people are getting infected," Reyna recalled. "He tried to not to get too close to us."

But David was worried about his coworkers too. He wanted the managers at the warehouses in Yakima to provide masks and social distancing so the workers wouldn’t get sick. He also wanted better wages. David went on strike in May, along with dozens of farmworkers.

When David first fell ill, Reyna said she didn't think it was Covid. But eventually, David went to the Virginia Mason Hospital in town. Reyna tried to help by translating over the phone because David’s English wasn't great. He would tell her: “I’m feeling so sick Reyna, I can't breathe.”

"He told me, 'I've never cried in my life — I never cry when my daddy passed away. But right now, I'll cry so bad all those day I'm here',” Reyna said. "My heart was breaking in pieces, when I heard that."

David was eventually intubated. Reyna tried to keep strong and be hopeful. "I was praying with him so many times over the phone," she said.

After 18 days in the hospital, David Cruz died.

Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted Latino communities, which have the highest rate of cases in the state. Farmworker advocates in Yakima continue pushing for work improvements.

KUOW is creating an online memorial to honor the lives lost to Covid-19.

Share a story of someone you'd like to remember.