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'He was the life of the party': Valley family grieving loss of father killed right before 60th birthday

Alex Gonzalez's family is remembering him as a loving father and husband taken too soon after he was killed in a car crash nine days before his 60th birthday.

PHOENIX — On what was supposed to be Alex Gonzalez’ 60th birthday, his family is honoring his life without him.

On Oct. 20, Gonzalez was killed while at a worksite in North Phoenix, just nine days before he was set to turn 60 years old.

“I love him, I just want to say happy birthday… where you at?” said Bridget Ovante, Gonzalez’s widow, as she fought back tears. “Yeah, it’s going to be hard.”

After more than 23 years of marriage, this is the first time Ovante will celebrate her husband’s birthday without him.

For the last two months, the family has been planning the grand celebration scheduled for this Saturday, said Helen Ovante, Gonzalez’s daughter. She said her father wanted to have a big party at South Mountain, but since the park was unavailable, they will have a gathering at Cesar Chavez Park.

“He was the life of the party, he would have wanted us to still celebrate him in some way,” Helen Ovante said. “He would have been so mad with his little diva tantrums had we not.”

Gonzalez is described as a good, loving, and hard-working grandfather, who had 25 grandkids. He was a jokester and hype man, who liked to bring everyone together.

His family said Gonzalez loved his work as a landscaper, a job he had done for most of his life, and what he was doing when he was killed.

“He didn’t deserve to go like this,” said Helen Ovante. “We definitely are going to want justice for [him], he took somebody that was the most precious human being to many people.”

Phoenix police said on Oct. 20 at around 2 p.m., a man driving an SUV hit Gonzalez’s work truck as it was parked in the road’s median with safety cones placed around it near Cave Creek Road and Dynamite Boulevard.

Gonzalez was standing behind the truck and died after the collision. Two other workers were also hurt in the accident but they're doing okay, Gonzalez’s family said.

“God took him for a reason, I just don’t know why,” said Gonzalez’s widow. “He [was] always like, ‘I need to tell you I love you, you need to tell me you love me, because you never know when I’m going to go.’”

Bridget Ovante said she spoke with her husband two hours before the accident when he told her, “I love you and I’ll see you later,” which was the couple's last conversation.

“Literally my dad was a saint, like, you don’t get people like that, really ever,” said Beatrice Ovante, Gonzalez’s daughter. “It sucks it had to be this way, he was a family man, and he is still loved by so many.”

Gonzalez was not Beatrice and Helen Ovante’s biological father, but the daughters said that was never shown.

“Him treating us like we were his own, it just peaks volumes of who he was as a person,” Helen said. “I don’t know anyone that would take in six kids as his own.”

Phoenix police said it’s still investigating the crash but believe speeding may have been a contributing factor in the accident. No one has been arrested at this time.

Gonzalez will be laid to rest on Monday.

“We miss him so much already, I don’t see that going away anytime soon,” Helen said.

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