PUEBLO — On Saturday, a "Celebration of Life" was held to honor the late Pueblo City Councilman, Ray Aguilera.
Aguilera died on Sunday, May 9 at the age of 78.
On Jan 25, 2021 Aguilera suffered a heart attack during a City Council Work Session. He returned to the City Council dais almost a month later, but a few days before his death his daughter notified the city of her father's declining health and was under hospice care during the last days of his life.
Aguilera represented District 4 in Pueblo for 14 years, and was known as an advocate for Pueblo's Bessemer neighborhoods, he was also the founding member of the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation.
“The entire community mourns the loss of Ray, and I extend heartfelt sympathies to his family." Said Mayor Nick Gradisar, "Ray’s greatest love was his family, and closely following was his love for his City. From the outpouring of response we have received at City Hall, it is clear that love was reciprocated by his constituents.”
Since his death, those who knew Aguilera have begun sharing stories about the work he did around Pueblo.
His favorite project, according to the City of Pueblo, was putting on the Bessemer Holiday Extravaganza which gave away 1,200 stockings, thousands of pounds of food items, and gift certificates. Friends say when someone told him about families that couldn't get presents for their kids he would go out and buy them gifts with his own money and deliver them to the families.
At the celebration on Saturday, friends also tell News 5 that in his final days he reflected on his life and told his family that he wished he could have done more.
"In the spirit of Ray, I challenge you all to go out and do more," said Andrea Aragon, a close friend of Ray's. "Be a voice for someone who does not have one, do something that will improve Bessmer and Pueblo as a whole, share your talents with the world help anyone you can when you can, and when you do our Ray will be there."
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Pueblo Poverty Foundation, which Aguilera founded to help fund his philanthropic efforts.
Aguilera is survived by his daughter Andrea, he considered her as his greatest accomplishment.