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Coronavirus

El Paso family loses father, son, business during Covid pandemic

Alfredo Medina
Margarita Dominguez
Alfredo Medina stands outside his business, Superior Body Shop. He opened the shop in 1979.
The Medina family
The surviving children of Alfredo Medina stand together outside the shop he founded, Superior Body Shop.
Alfredo and Julio Medina
Margarita Dominguez
Alfredo and Julio Medina pose outside their shop.
Julio and Alfredo Medina
Courtesy Margarita Dominguez
Alfredo and Julio Medina
Margarita Dominguez
Alfredo and Julio Medina.

EL PASO, Texas -- In 2020, the Medina family was celebrating 40 years of serving El Paso through their family-owned business, Superior Body Shop.

One year later, the shop is shuttered and they are trying to comprehend life without their patriarch and shop founder, Alfredo Medina, and their brother, Julio, who had taken over the family business.

Both died of Covid-19 within weeks of each other.

This week, ABC-7 marks the year since El Paso's first official coronavirus case emerged. We look at a family affected by the pandemic and how they're moving forward.

RELATED CONTENT: A year into Covid-19: Timeline of the Borderland pandemic

Family business serves as a second home

Daniel Medina has many fond memories of his father Alfredo. Many of them began at his dad's business, Superior Body Shop on Dyer Street.

"When I think of my dad I think of hard work," Daniel said as he stood in the shop's garage. His brother, two sisters and their families stood nearby, showing up to Daniel's interview about his father for moral support.

"All of us were raised at this place, the little shop at the corner. It brought so much joy for over 40 years to our community and especially to our family," he added.

Founded in 1979, the shop is older than Daniel. He is the youngest of Alfredo's five children.

While Daniel remembers playing with toy cars at the shop on weekends, his brother Alfredo "Fred" Medina Junior recalls sweeping the body shop's floors as a kid, and taking a more involved role as a young adult.

"This paint booth is my design," Fred said as he looked around the windowless brick and sheet metal room at the back of the shop. "I worked on it to help my father get in compliance with the local agencies and state agencies and federal agencies.

"We had cookouts here for holidays or just big family events here. My heart and soul are in this place," he added.

Covid-19's sudden, deadly impact

The surviving Medina siblings and their families joined Fred in the paint room. As they exchanged stories and memories, it was clear that they all understood this might be the last big family event at Superior Body Shop.

Their brother Julio died of Covid-19 on Dec. 9, 2020. It came two weeks after the family lost their father to the coronavirus on Nov. 25.

Daniel said when their father died, Julio was in a coma.

"The nurses said that they saw something different in his system, in his body. … They had this incredible relationship with each other," he added.

One thing that bound father and son was their work ethic, said Daniel.

"Until the end, my brother was still trying to run the business from the hospital and his wife was helping finish the jobs," Daniel said.

Julio's widow Nancy stood with her two daughters in the body shop's painting room. She clutched a spray can as she talked with the remaining Medina siblings. "This was Julio's," she said, choking back tears as she recalled how the shop employees would show their love and respect for their boss and the business by how they prepped and cleaned his equipment.

With no one left in the family to take over the business, Nancy said she is looking to sell the shop.

‘Limping through the finish line’

Eventually, the family's stories about Julio and Alfredo echoed through the quiet space. Wistful smiles emerged through their tears as the realization hit home that their current life was unfathomable just a year earlier.

"When I got my vaccine a couple of weeks ago, I just cried," Daniel said. "I was very, very emotional because my brother and my dad were just so close to getting it."

"I can't finish (the pandemic) strong," he added. "I've lost two loved ones. I'm going to limp through the finish line and it hurts a lot. But I find strength in my nieces; I find strength in my mom, my sister-in-law, my brother, my sisters, and our faith."

Fred agreed that their belief in God was helping the family cope.

"We trust in the Lord and one of the things that brought a lot of comfort to us was knowing where they're at," he added.

The entire Medina family agreed: even though the shop was closed they found comfort knowing their father and brother were leaving a legacy that would outlive the pandemic.

"Covid-19 took my dad and my brother but it didn't take the memories," Daniel said. "It didn't take the example that they left."

El Paso / News / Top Stories / Video

Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.

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