Editor’s note: This story is part of a series about Oklahomans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read the stories of other Oklahomans here. Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19? Help us tell their story. 

Victorio Alejandro Ramirez, 53, was a Marine, a soccer coach, a husband, father and grandfather.

The second youngest of Joe and Emily Ramirez’s five children, and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Joe was raised in the El Reno area, and his older sister Anita Greenwalt were particularly close, and always getting into adventures.

“He was my best friend growing up. We got into a lot of messes together,” Greenwalt said. “He was my biggest cheerleader.”

After graduating from El Reno High School in 1986, Ramirez enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served in the first battalion of the 9th Marines, which earned the name “The Walking Dead” for its high rate of casualties in the Vietnam War. He did two overseas tours aboard the USS Tripoli and the USS Tarawa. By the time he left the Marines in 1992, he had been awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with a Bronze Star.

In 1998, he married his wife Carla Grulkey Ramirez and they had two children, Nicholas and Remington. He later had a grandson, Ryker.

He worked construction, but also served as a high school and competitive league soccer coach, and later worked in the information technology department at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho. He loved hunting, fishing, his family, and coaching soccer, Carla said.

He had an infectious laugh, and was always willing to help those who needed it, Carla said.

“He was such a good man,” she said. “Kids were just his life. We spent every weekend and holiday at a (soccer) tournament. He loved it. He loved the kids.”

The shutdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic gave her and Victorio time to do several things they had always wanted to do. They remodeled the house and Victorio bought a boat and enjoyed fishing, especially with Ryker. He and Carla were planning on a vacation in Alaska after the pandemic ended.

In September, Victorio’s mother and his father both died of COVID-19. The loss hit him hard, especially the loss of his mother, Carla said.

Then, shortly after Victorio’s 53rd birthday on Nov. 30, both he and Carla were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Though her symptoms were worse at first, he eventually became so sick he had to be transported to the hospital in Yukon.

Victorio was in good health before contracting COVID-19 but within a month, he succumbed to the disease and died Dec. 26, 2020. He was buried with full military honors.

“He was a very loyal man. A good man,” Carla said. “He had a good heart and would give the shirt off his back to anyone.”