BRADENTON, Fla. - As father and a best friend, you could always count on Ramon Morales.
"He always wanted you to do better with yourself, he was never judgmental," said his daughter Ciera Morales.
Ada Morales also remembers her father fondly. "He was a firm believer of family love, his love was so strong," she said.
Ramon Morales’ love and passion could be felt through the hallways of Manatee High School. He worked at MHS as a custodian for the past 15 years.
"Manatee High School was just his place, he did the fields and the ground keeping, he was just an all-around guy with the kids," said Sean Lutz.
Lutz is the plant manager at Manatee High School. He recalled how Ramon Morales’ pride shined on the football field. Before every game, he made sure it was in tip-top shape and worked with students to paint the field.
"He made Manatee High feel like Manatee High. He would walk into the school and say, ‘Go Canes Go,’" said Lutz.
When Ramon Morales got off work from Manatee High School, he'd often be found at the Applebees in Ellenton. He worked a second job, to help support his 98-year-old mother in Mexico.
"He never forgot about his family in Mexico, he tried to go two times a year," said Ciera Morales.
In early July, Ramon Morales left Manatee High and would never return.
"He had said he wasn’t feeling too well. After he got done working he felt sick," said Ciera Morales.
He continued to get sicker and tested positive for COVID-19 at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
"Even in the emergency room the nurses were saying how he was just trying to be funny and he had good spirits," said Ciera Morales.
COVID-19 made their father's underlying health conditions worse. He was eventually placed on a ventilator.
Ramon's daughters along with their children, siblings and mom waited for a recovery. It appeared one would happen, but Ramon's body could no longer fight. One week after entering the hospital he died at 64 years old.
"It was heartbreaking to know that he went from being so sick to so well to even worse," said Morales.
Ramon Morales’ children can no longer visit him daily in person. His smile will only be seen in photos and videos. They only hope other families can avoid their pain.
Ramon Morales would have turned 65 on August 1. On that date, Applebee's in Ellenton will hold a celebration of life from 7 - 10 a.m. Proceeds from a pancake breakfast will be raised for his family.
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