Tribute For Adrian Gomez, Who Cared for Migrant Youth, Is Dead at 52

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

The Trump administration’s practice of separating parents from children in families crossing the border illegally from Mexico has received plenty of attention in recent years. So have the shelters to which those children and unaccompanied migrant teenagers are sent, like the one operated by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs in a former Walmart superstore in Brownsville, Texas.

Less notice goes to the people employed by those shelters, like Adrian Gomez, who worked for Southwest Key for 18 years. He was an assistant program director at a smaller shelter run by Southwest Key in Brownsville.

Mr. Gomez died on June 26 in a Brownsville hospital. He was 52. The cause was complications of the novel coronavirus, his daughter, Alysha Lynn Harrington, said.

His death prompted an outpouring of online condolences from friends and colleagues who recalled his commitment as an elementary-school coach, as a Cameron County juvenile probation officer, as a personal trainer at a gym and as a shelter employee.

His job at the shelter, a relatively small one, was to make sure the young people he supervised were properly housed and educated while they were seeking asylum or until they were reunited with their families, and also to help find more permanent homes for migrant youth who were granted asylum after crossing the border by themselves through a program of the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards.

“He chose his profession because he wanted to make a difference in others’ lives,” Ms. Harrington said. “He cared about his clients and helped them by getting them on the right path to a bright future. He wanted them to have a good education and to live happily. He loved everyone and had a huge heart.”

Mr. Gomez was born on April 13, 1968, in Brownsville and rarely ventured much beyond the city, which abuts the border next to Matamoros, Mexico. He remained closest to his mother, Maria de Gomez, who along with his daughter survives him, as do his brother John Gomez; his sister, Marisela Erwin; and two grandchildren.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice at the University of Texas in Brownsville and worked for Southwest Key for 18 years.

“He had no underlying health issues,” Ms. Harrington said. “He was 52 and could have had many more years ahead of him.”

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