COVID-19 continues to ravage the country and the world. Its reach has also impacted the local Latino community.
On Feb. 10 we lost a beloved figure in the Quad Cities. Edmund “Pep” Sandoval passed away due to complications of the virus.
Pep was born Nov. 16, 1941, in Silvis, Ill., the son of Encarnacion and Amalia (Herrera) Sandoval. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
“The unconditional love of Jesus flowed through Edmund ‘Pep’ Sandoval here on Earth. Anyone who knew Pep, or met him for the first time, felt loved. Pep lived for his faith, family and friends. He always greeted you with a smile, loved to joke and make you laugh,” said his daughter Pam Savala.
He cherished his wife, Paula, and lovingly cared for her until she passed last August. He adored his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his great, great-grandchildren.
“He was excited to buy his great grandson a BB gun. He still sat on the floor and played with Barbies with his great-granddaughter. All the grandkids wanted to be with Papa Pep,” his daughter said. “Through the generations he loved to take the kids to the creek on Hero Street and catch minnows and tell them stories of growing up on Hero Street. He would tell them he never got sick because he drank from the Hero Street creek and it made him immune to everything; he said he drank from the fountain of youth.”
Pep, as he was endearingly called, was a well known figure among the military community in the Quad Cities as he was a long-time member of the Mexican American Veterans Association (MAVA).
“Pep has been with MAVA for 38 years and my friend for 40 years. He was dedicated to all aspects of our organization. You could always count on him. He has done hundreds of funerals for veterans. And he participated in all functions of raising money for the organization to help all people in need. He was the go-to guy for us,” said Gunter Terronez, commander of the MAVA Color Guard.
“Pep was proud of his heritage and loved sharing it with his family. He loved his cowboy hat, cowboy boots, Mexican music and dancing. Everyone Pep knew he loved and everyone who knew Pep loved him because his love was infectious,” his daughter said.
Terronez affirmed that sentiment.
“Pep always let us know to be careful going anywhere, he cared for everyone. He enjoyed Mexican music and I always had it on my radio because he rode with me on all our duties,” he said.
“Nobody could or will fill his shoes. I loved him and miss my best buddy.”