Mountain West In Memoriam: Alonso Frias
Samantha Frias met her husband, Alonso, back in 2003. It was at a Halloween party. Alonso wasn't dressed up, but Samantha wore a Morticia Adams costume. She said they were inseparable from the very start.
"We were never apart," she said. "We were together wherever we went. The only time we were apart was when he was at work. And sometimes I was at work with him."
After working for a concrete company in Casper, Wyoming for about 20 years, Alonso had started his own business: Frias Concrete and Stone Construction. His oldest son, Santana Gould, said his dad had this incredible attention to detail.
"He wanted to make sure that everything was perfectly level, that everything looked right, it didn't look off at all," he said. "And I mean, if something didn't look right, especially at his own house, if it didn't look right, he'd redo it, tear it out, redo it."
This kind of work ethic earned the company quite the following, and Alonso became close with a lot of his clients.
"Whenever someone thinks of my father, they think of a selfless, hardworking, honest, man," Santana said.
Alonso ended up with a big family to care for, too. When he met his wife, Samantha, she already had two kids, one of whom is Santana. But she said Alonso raised them as if they were his own.
"That just shows you what type of person he is right there, from the very beginning," she said. After their first child together, Alonso told Samantha he still wanted two more kids.
"And I'm like, 'No, one more and that's it!' Well, I ended up with twins and so he got his way, and he got his two kids. And we have the twins and they're eight. Alonso and Allyah," she said.
The seven of them were a close family. So when Alonso got sick in February, it was really scary. He had low oxygen levels and a dangerously high fever before he tested positive for COVID-19 and was checked into the hospital. Alonso then spent the next two and half weeks battling the virus as well as a case of pneumonia. Samantha said the hospital had restricted visits somewhat, but she was there as much as she could be, from after dropping the kids off at school in the mornings to six o'clock at night when she said visiting hours would end.
Then things started looking up. The family was feeling optimistic about their dad.
"He was feeling better, finally eating," said Santana. "He was recovering from COVID and pneumonia. We were thinking he was going to be released from the hospital in about a week and a half."
But Alonso never came home. He died on March 11 at the age 50.
Samantha said it's been difficult to take care of her grieving children while she's also grieving.
"It's been hard," she said. "Every time they break down, my heart breaks into many pieces again."
Samantha said one thing that has helped is the community. Casper has rallied around her family in ways she didn't expect.
"We've been showered with so much support, even from people that I didn't even know that Alonso knew," she explained. "He touched so many people in this town, that I didn't even realize how many people actually knew him and cared about him. I didn't have a clue until now."
Samantha said it shouldn't surprise her though. That's who Alonso was, anytime someone needed help, she said her husband gave it to them.
"Whether it was work, a vehicle, money, whatever it was," she said. "He was a great man. He was very giving, kind hearted, hardworking, and he loved his family."
Santana has recently taken over his dad's concrete company, but he said reopening will be a slow process. He's got big shoes to fill.