Abraham Vega, 48, ‘Peacemaking’ Texas Sheriff, Dies

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Abraham Vega, 48, ‘Peacemaking’ Texas Sheriff, Dies

This obituary is part of a series about people who died from the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Abraham Vega and Rachel Curry first met at high school soccer games in Tahoka, Texas when she reported on them as a school newspaper photographer, and he did the same for the Lynn County Times. They finally went their separate ways, got married, had two children each and got a divorce.

Then it was time for a second chapter. Mr. Vega and Ms. Curry met again in 2017 and married the following year in a storybook that started a new life.

"People who knew us told us," You can see on their faces that you've changed someone else's life, "Ms. Vega said in a phone interview.

At that time, Mr. Vega was a sheriff from Lynn County in northwest Texas, and his career flourished. He was appointed Republican candidate for the job in March. Its tiny jurisdiction, which is home to around 5,000 people and a 48-bed prison, is largely republican, and the party's nomination is tantamount to re-election before the November vote.

As the coronavirus pandemic increased in Texas in the past few weeks, Sheriff Vega believed he had taken all precautions against infection, his wife said.

"He had underlying illnesses and was so afraid that he would not go out except in the office," said Ms. Vega. "I would go to the grocery store. But then, in the last month, a colleague tested positive. The next day Abraham did the same. "

Mr. Vega was admitted to a Lubbock hospital, where he spent two weeks, including nine days, on a ventilator. He was then flown to a major medical center in Dallas and died there on Saturday. He was 48 years old.

The day he entered the hospital was the couple's second wedding anniversary.

"That was the last time I saw him," said Ms. Vega, who also tested positive for the virus, but was asymptomatic.

Abraham Martin Vega was born on November 7, 1971 in Brownsville, Texas, to Abelardo Vega, who worked for a telephone company, and Rachel Corona Saldana, a primary school teacher.

Together with his wife, who is a teacher and executive director of the Texas Chief Deputies Association, his parents include his survivors; two children from their first marriage, Marcus and Cori Vega; two stepchildren from his second marriage, Kaitlyn Lehman and Curry Lehman; his brother Mark Vega; his sister Felicia Valleja; and a granddaughter.

After graduating from Tahoka High School, Mr. Vega was unsure about a career, although he was inspired by the involvement of a police officer who advised him, his wife said. At 19, he worked as a dispatcher in the sheriff's office and never left law enforcement.

Mr. Vega was a prison administrator, school district police chief, deputy sheriff and president of the Texas Chief Deputies Association in 2016, the same year he was elected sheriff of Lynn County for four years.

By renting vacant cells for the detention of inmates from other jurisdictions, he earned the county more than $ 1 million, appointed a deputy to cut truancy, and encouraged his employees to continue their education.

"He wasn't a policeman's pursuer," said Ms. Vega. "He had a servant's heart and that made him a peace officer."

Indeed, Mr. Vega had this idea tattooed on his chest, a phrase from the Gospel of Matthew: "Blessed are the peacemakers."

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