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Gonzalez builds legacy

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Leo Gonzalez Jr. seems to have always known that he’s not in control of his life, God is.

“God knows what’s going on,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that tomorrow’s not promised. I say I’m not lucky, I’m blessed. It’s the only way to look at it.”

At 36, Gonzalez has been in trouble, out of trouble, and nine years ago he straightened himself out. His heart forced the issue.

“Kids change your heart,” he said. “Growing up I was always getting in trouble, but when I got out of jail in Grants in 2009 I got my two older kids and I became a dad overnight. I’ve never looked back since. Never again did I make trouble for myself.”

That decision was the beginning of a blessed, if hard life.

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“If I didn’t get custody of my first two kids,” Gonzalez said, “I probably never would have met my wife, so that means I probably would never have gotten my other two kids.”

They were expecting their first child when Gonzalez was in a terrible accident.

“May 5, 2012, I was driving down McGaffey when a 19-year-old girl got her fourth DWI by running out in front of me off of Aspen,” he said. “I T-boned her truck, sent it sliding, and my engine landed in my lap. I had 17 fractures in my legs. I’m still recovering.

“I flatlined at the hospital, but they brought me back and flew me to Lubbock. I was in a coma for five days. Then I came back to Roswell and was at Lovelace for two more months. I couldn’t move at that time, if not for my wife I couldn’t have made it through that. We had our first child together at that time.”

The injuries he sustained that night will be with him for the rest of his life.

“I got four metal rods and about two dozen screws holding my legs together now,” Gonzalez said. “I love to be out in the rain but my legs sure feel it.”

As Gonzalez was working to get back on his feet, he was dealt an even harder blow.

“I lost my wife May 17, 2015,” he said. “She died due to medical negligence. A doctor didn’t treat her for Group B strep, which she was diagnosed with when she was pregnant.”

He talked about the frustration they had to deal with for months.

“We kept taking her to the hospital after my daughter was born. We were taking her twice a month at least. Doctors kept saying she just wanted the pain meds. She said she didn’t want pain meds, she wanted them to find out what was wrong with her. So they said she had anxiety.

“The next day she woke up in so much pain we drove her to Lubbock. When we got there the nurse took her straight in. They didn’t even process her. The doctor came out and told me it was probably already too late.”

What Gonzalez learned next ripped his heart out.

“The doctor said that they had known of the diagnosis all along, but didn’t treat her,” he said. “When we got to Lubbock they said her brain was already starting to swell. She was 27 when she passed away.”

After he lost his wife, Gonzalez was surprised to learn how many lives she had touched. It helped.

“For the first week after my wife passed away,” he said, “I kept getting messages on Facebook from people who would say they never met her, but they were Facebook friends and when they were down she’d be there for them and let them talk it out. She made people smile all the time, in person and online.”

It was his love for his children that kept Gonzalez going.

“When I was first recovering from my accident,” he said, “it was my baby learning to crawl and to walk that motivated me to keep working on getting stronger, and when my wife died I couldn’t let my kids see me breaking down. I did that in private. But for them I had to be strong and so I was.”

And it’s his faith that gets him through the worst of times.

“One thing I’ve learned is to never question God,” Gonzalez said. “I’m grateful he took her away from her pain and for the privilege of having her as my wife.”

Lately, he has been putting all his attention on building a business legacy.

“I started out just doing T-shirts, Gonzalez said, “but I’ve ventured off to printing on all sorts of things. I opened in 2015 and the business has done nothing but grow. This business I’m running now is teaching me how to run a business.

“I don’t have a timeline for my current business. It’s growing so I’m going to keep it going. My goal is in the next five years to own a franchise restaurant and then down the road to own my own restaurant.”

As his children have grown, Gonzalez has brought them to work with him so that they could learn from the ground up.

“My oldest daughter has a real good head on her shoulders,” he said. “I think she’ll do well in business. I’m a single dad with four kids. I make sure my kids have a good role model in me. My dad wasn’t the best role model and I want to have a better relationship with my kids.”

Fortunately, Gonzalez had a good role model to fall back on.

“Another man who has raised me since I was 10 years old is Dad and Grandpa,” Gonzalez said. “He’s retired from the schools so he’s helping me to make sure my kids get a good education.”

Between his faith, his devotion to his family and his entrepreneurial spirit, Gonzalez is a part of what makes Roswell worth living in.

Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.