Oscar Hidalgo Romero is remembered by family and church members as a loving and well respected person who made an impact on the Latino community.
Jose Orellana, the pastor of the Church of Pentecost Inc., wanted to appear strong for his congregation Thursday, but in a back room he broke down, the tears streaming as he spoke of his friend Jose Oscar Hidalgo Romero, who helped him found the church three years ago.
"No mas cerca angel," he said. You couldn't be closer to an angel.
A light in the Latino community in Aberdeen and Edgewood, Hidalgo Romero worked hard - and shared what he gave, believing that God had provided him with everything. Part of his salary from Advanced Granite Solutions went to help pay the church's rent, and he worshiped there many days of the week. He adored pupusas, but didn't eat much: He'd buy two and share with his friends.
With much of his family - his wife, child, and brothers and sisters - back in El Salvador, the country he'd left 13 years ago, his church in Aberdeen was his surrogate family.
"He was my brother in Christ," said his friend, Marta Dia, who regularly attended services with him.
Thursday night, a few dozen friends gathered to remember their brother at services in the church at an Aberdeen strip mall. As the adults prayed and remembered their brother in the main room, their kids stayed in a playroom, their giggles and squeals punctuating the grief.
No one had told the kids what happened to Hidalgo Romero, said Orellana. It would be too upsetting for them.
Hidalgo Romero had two brothers in the U.S. They live in Aberdeen, and struggled to find words for their grief. Things like this just don't happen in El Salvador, said Henri Alexander Hidalgo Romero, 29.