Portales man remembered as fun-loving, hard worker

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Family and friends remember Manuel Alvarez-Alonso as a man who clowned around, worked hard and made time for his family.

Alvarez-Alonso, 39, of Portales died Monday in Lubbock after spending two weeks on life support after a 2,000-pound bag of peanuts fell on him while he was working at Sunland Inc.

Sunland CEO Jimmie Shearer said Alvarez-Alonso had torn a hole in one of the large bags, and peanuts ran out, causing another bag on top of the damaged one to shift and fall on him while he was repairing the rip. Shearer said the incident was a freak accident.

Alvarez-Alonso was an excellent employee, Shearer said.

“A lot of people knew him,” the CEO also said. “He was a really likable guy.”

Alvarez-Alonso’s companion of three years, Raquel Salazar, remembers him as a good father and husband who always had time to take his family out once a week.

“He loved cooking,” Salazar said in Spanish with family friend Jessica Pillado translating. “Cooking and eating healthy were his main deals.”

Alvarez-Alonso was interested in outer space as well, and liked to camp and fish, she said. He was also afraid of the dark.

Salazar and Alvarez-Alonso met when they were working at a meatpacking plant in Friona. Alvarez-Alonso worked a couple of tables behind Salazar, and one day he tried to knock her hard hat off with a piece of meat to get her attention.

After that, Alvarez-Alonso disappeared, and Salazar began looking for him every day. Eventually, she was moved to another work table and discovered Alvarez-Alonso at the table beside her.

Salazar began bringing him candy, and the two had been a couple since.

Alvarez-Alonso and Salazar have two children together, Carlos, 2, and Michael, 9 months.

Alvarez-Alonso had four children with his first wife, 17-year-old Laura, 15-year-old Ryan, 13-year-old Elvis and 12-year-old Henry. Alvarez-Alonso was raising them.

Alvarez-Alonso’s mother said he was never hard-headed and was always trying to help, Pillado said.

Pillado worked with Alvarez-Alonso at Sunland and had known him a little more than a year. She said Alvarez-Alonso was a happy person, and was the main attraction at work because he was always giving everybody a hard time, in a good way.

“He was a very hard worker,” Pillado added.

Every two or three days, Pillado said, Alvarez-Alonso would get angry because she and her co-workers borrowed his air hose and didn’t return it. He would scold them, but come back to talk after a while.