“Once you’ve met him, you won’t forget him”: Elvis Reyes’ family speaks about loved one

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Family members of fallen Rochester firefighter Elvis Reyes are speaking out for the first time since his death.

“He was an amazing person who touched so many lives, he really made a difference, once you’ve met him, you won’t forget him,” Elvis’ aunt, Gladys Pedraza-Burgos told News10NBC’s Stephanie Duprey.

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His family shared intimate stories and memories. It’s clear as day that Elvis was a hero to the community in many ways, not just in a Rochester fire uniform, but as a human, spreading love wherever he could.

“His biggest thing was love for his family his fellow firefighters and his community, that was his biggest thing,” Pedraza-Burgos said.

A fire truck red colored light stays lit outside the home of Reye’s family members, so Elvis’ spirit can linger forever.

“It was a very sudden and tragic loss for us as a family, but not just for us, for the community as well.”

A family man, loving, gentle giant, a hero, is just a little of how Elvis is described. The 54-year-old died unexpectedly after complications from surgery. He was battling an injury he received while on the job. The Reyes family has been gathering daily, praying for him. Guiding his soul to peace.

“The catholic tradition is to have the rosary, and we do that for about nine days.”

“Embracing the eternal life he’s moving on to, saying and reciting the rosary helps us too, because we miss him so much.”

Pedraza-Burgos says Elvis was a light in someone’s day no matter what. She says countless people, strangers said he touched their lives in some capacity.

“I ran into a person who was inquiring about my name and once I told him I said, “You would have known my nephew, who just passed away”, and his jaw just dropped and he said, I know Elvis, I know him well. For me the loss is hard, and so it’s amazing how wide he’s impacted this community,” Pedraza-Burgos said, as her eyes filled with tears.

Family members said he was never afraid to be himself and make someone laugh. He would do anything for anyone.