(CNN) – Fidencio Sánchez, the beloved palette salesman from Chicago whose tireless work ethic and generous heart captivated many, died this week. He was 92 years old.
His friend Joel Cervantes Macías, and Manny Martínez, of Martinez Funeral Home, confirmed his death to CNN. Dulce Sánchez, Fidencio's granddaughter, confirmed her death to the Chicago Tribune.
For years, Sanchez toured the streets of Little Village in Chicago with an ice cream cart full of cold popsicles.
Sanchez, who was orphaned at 6 months, worked to stay from age 13, first in Morales, Mexico, and then, since 1990, in Chicago.
The images of the 89-year-old man hunched over his car, struggling to push him, told a moving story: his wife could no longer work with him, and the daughter who cooked for them every day died in 2016, so he worked out of necessity.
That same year, Joel Cervantes Macías met Sánchez, bought him 20 palettes and started a fundraiser at GoFundMe in hopes of raising enough to help Sánchez retire.
In a few weeks, thousands of people around the world donated almost $ 400,000 to the man with the pallets.
Sanchez told CNN in 2016 that he was "very grateful and very happy" for the unexpected support.
He lived modestly until retirement
Although Sanchez initially considered buying a home or investing in hearing aids for people with hearing problems with their retirement funds, he continued to live modestly, Macías said. He stayed in the apartment he shared with his wife, although he bought a new car.
He enjoyed activities that he couldn't afford before, Macías said. He dined at a Chinese buffet with his wife a little more often and visited museums more often than he used to.
But, above all, Sanchez finally retired.
Macias told CNN that he became closer to Sanchez and his family since they met in 2016. They attended meetings at Sanchez's church together and regularly talked on the phone.
Earlier this year, Sanchez fell and broke his hip, Macías said. From there, the fluid accumulated in his lungs and sepsis complicated his health.
Sánchez's granddaughter called Macías immediately after her death. Macías shared the news on Facebook, where it has been shared more than 1,500 times.
"Everyone has seen his grandfather in him, or his father," he said. "He gave me a nice new look at humanity."
– Rosa Flores of CNN contributed to this report.
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