Carlos Arturo Quintero moved to Woodside, Queens when he was just a teenager. He never left the borough. In fact, he would live in the same apartment for the rest of his life, first with his mother, then with his wife, Marlene, his daughter, Nayibe and his granddaughter, Giselle.
His niece, Diana Quintanilla, said he was a man who brought joy to everyone around him.
“We’ll remember him as someone who was always full of life,” she said. “He was someone who loved to celebrate life.”
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His wife and daughter fell ill with the virus first, but it would hit him the hardest. He was admitted to Elmhurst Hospital on April 9th. Eight days later, he died. He was 76.
Quintanilla said his family was able to say goodbye to him in person.
“They were actually given 30 minutes to make it to the hospital to say their goodbyes,” she said. “His wife was the last person to see him alive.”
Quintero was born in Colombia, the fifth of 11 children. When he left his homeland for the United States, he brought with him his love for the country’s national football team, even collecting the club’s jerseys.
He had just returned from a two-month trip to Colombia before falling ill.
For years, he was an avid runner, taking on the New York Marathon in 1997.
“He loved to travel,” Quintanilla said. “He loved to Salsa dance, and he loved spending time with his family.”
Saying goodbye was painful, but, she said, the most difficult days are yet to come.
“The holidays will be the hardest,” she said. “He was always the first one there. By the time we got there, he had been waiting for hours. He loved celebrating with all of us.”
There is so much his family will miss about Carlos Arturo Quintero. But most of all, said his niece, they will miss the joy he brought to everything.
“When I think of the memories we have of him it always starts with his smile,” she said. “He always looked at the positive. He was always happy. The virus may have killed my uncle, but it can never kill our memory of him. He’ll always be in our hearts.”