Carlos Vasquez

Obituary of Carlos E. Vasquez

CARLOS E. VASQUEZ Carlos Enrique Vasquez of Albany, New York passed away of acute respiratory failure and pneumonia on February 18, 2023. Though his birth certificate said he was born February 20, he was born February 19, 1967 in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla, Guatemala. Carlos' hometown is near the Pacific coast, in a seismically-active area at the base of Volcan de Fuego, "Volcano of Fire," or Fuego, for short (also called Chi Q'aq, "Where the Fire Is" in the indigenous Kaqchikel language). Fuego, standing over 12,300 feet tall, is the most historically active volcano in Central America. And 1967 marked the seventh year of what would be a 36-year civil war in Guatemala. A volatile place at a volatile time. Carlos often talked about his childhood there, including seeing Fuego's red lava glow at night, and the summer days so hot, the soles of your shoes would melt if you held still too long. He painted a picture somewhat like a tropical Huckleberry Finn adventure-a little bit poor with a lot of mischief. He loved to reminisce about things like catching iguanas in the house while his sister screamed, picking as many wild pineapples as he could carry down by the train tracks, catching bats to keep in a cage in the house for insect control, climbing a tree in a neighbor's yard to steal ripe mangoes, and hitching a ride on the back of a city bus on Easter, then falling when he jumped off, and ripping the knees of his new brown pants. It wasn't all harmless fun. Alongside his father, Carlos worked hard from primary school age in his grandfather's blacksmith shop. Imagine hand-forging wrought iron beside red hot coals in tropical heat and humidity. He was proud of the things they made there, from wagon wheels to fancy security bars for windows and doors, and the physical strength he developed as well. But working there was very hard, and forced him to wake early every day to try to complete assignments before school. The war raging in the background is important to his story. Of the estimated 200,000 killed or "disappeared" during the war, it's estimated that 83% were indigenous Maya people. Carlos was proud of his indigenous heritage, and deeply troubled by the brutality he saw all around him in his youth. It stayed with him the rest of his life. He talked about people he knew of who disappeared, about the poisoning of war orphans, and how he was snatched off the street and thrown into a truck, forcibly recruited to the military before being rescued through his father's influence. After finishing secondary school (high school), he began studying at university. But in late 1988 he took advantage of an opportunity to move to Port Chester, NY, to live with his uncle and family, in hopes of recovering and healing from some of the trauma he experienced. Carlos took a job with the food service company at Manhattanville College, and began his new American life. In 1992 he married and shortly thereafter accepted an offer to begin training in food service. He started as a dining room attendant and worked his way up to sous chef with Flik International, honing his skills in corporate cafeterias at Deutsche Bank in Manhattan and Ciba in Brewster. Eventually, Carlos went on to become an executive chef, and for several years he worked at Albany College of Pharmacy. He loved his work; the creativity of working with food, and interacting with customers. He also loved the diversity and camaraderie of the kitchen crew everywhere he worked. He always had a smile, a joke, and an enthusiastic greeting for everyone he met. When he served you, he looked you in the eye, addressed you as "Sir," "Miss," or "Ma'am," prepared your order promptly and correctly, and handed it to you with a smile. If you were a regular, he remembered your name, and probably your typical order. He also had a tender heart. When Carlos worked at a nursing home in the late '90s, he was friendly with the residents and grew close to many of them. He knew all of their preferences, their dietary restrictions, and even which ones to watch so they wouldn't walk out the wrong door and end up outside. He often talked about one man with diabetes who used to sneak into the kitchen every afternoon and beg for a banana. When that resident passed away, Carlos was devastated. Every few weeks, he came home in tears remembering someone who had gone to eternal rest that day. No doubt he has been reunited with some of these old friends on the other side. Fun facts about Carlos: - Carlos became a naturalized citizen on May 27, 1999 - Strawberry ice cream was his favorite flavor - Chinese food was his absolute favorite - He loved dogs and little kids - He was a Yankees fan Carlos is survived by three daughters-Mariasilvia Vasquez of Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala; America Vasquez of Moreau, NY; and Athena Vasquez of Glens Falls, NY-and 4 grandchildren. He is also survived by parents Carlos Humberto and Maria Eulalia (nee Monterroso) Vasquez, siblings Gilberto "Beto" [Zulma] Vasquez, Claudia [Rudy] Vasquez, and Maritza Godoy Monterroso, all of Guatemala, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his beloved younger brother, (Jose) Benjamin Vasquez, and his grandparents. At the time of his passing, Carlos was employed by Cardona's Market on Delaware Avenue, Albany, and was a long-term resident and volunteer at Capital City Rescue Mission, Pearl Street, Albany. Over the years, he had sometimes lived and worked at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on Clinton Avenue, Albany as well. If you would like to make a gift in his memory, please support a shelter, food pantry, or addiction recovery program in your area. Arangements have been entrusted to the care of Dufresne & Cavanaugh Funeral Home, Latham. If you had the pleasure of knowing Carlos (or wish you had), please leave a message for the family below.
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