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Lynn County Healthcare System employees rally to benefit late co-worker

In just two months, Chris Lopez had become a part of the work family. But he hadn’t been there long enough to qualify for life insurance.
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:02 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Above the desk once occupied by Chris Lopez, there is a quote.

It reads: “These things we do so that others may live.”

It’s leftover from when the office wasn’t occupied by Lynn County Healthcare System’s IT department. But in the last month, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

In late August, the 28-year-old was headed to work. But his usual routine was cut short, when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck at the intersection of Highway 87 and FM 41 just North of Woodrow.

It’s the same route, many of his co-workers take from Lubbock to Tahoka, like Lopez’s boss Ace Williams.

“I saw the motorcycle. I saw his backpack, his helmet. I could see it in the trooper’s eyes that Chris was gone,” he said.

Though Lopez had only been a part of the team for two months, the army veteran and father of three made a profound impact.

“I miss him everyday. There’s sometimes I’ll start working and I will start to say something to him, to ask him a question and it hits me like a ton of bricks, that he’s not here anymore,” Williams said.

On Williams’ badge, there is a thin black line in honor of Lopez.

He is remembered for his kindness, his enthusiasm and always going the extra mile.

“It didn’t matter how busy he was or how much he had to do. He always walked in with a smile,” Director of Lynnwood Assisted Living Jenny Garrett said. “We became very close very quickly, because in our line of work those smiles are greatly appreciated.”

“He had said so many times ‘I am so happy to be here. I love what you guys are trying to do out here, you know, taking care of people. I just love being a part of the team. It’s like one big family,’” C.E.O. Dr. Melanie Richburg said.

Lopez was just one month shy of qualifying for health and life insurance.

“Our first worry was, oh my gosh, what’s going to happen with their little family? His wife, he has three little boys,” Richburg said.

When it came time to take care of one of their own, the organization returned the favor Lopez had done so many times before.

Going the extra mile.

About 70 employees rallied to donate their individual time off for a benefit fund.

In total, the time off was worth $26,000.

“It seemed like a very small thing, to give up for him,” Garrett said, “being able to see that amount given to him, and his family, that just reminds me of the family that we have here,” she added.

For the team, it will never truly be enough because they’ll never have his “bright light” shine in their hallways again.

“Mr. Chris, he’s one of a kind. It’s hard to talk about him in the past tense,” Dr. Richburg said.

“My heart is broken and I don’t know how long it will take to mend,” Williams said.

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