Vidal Lopez came to the United States as part of Operación Pedro Pan, a clandestine effort to spirit children out of Fidel Castro’s Cuba out of fear they would be taken away from their parents and sent to Communist re-education camps. In 1963, he came to Albuquerque, where he would live the rest of his life.
Unapologetically himself, Vidal was loved by everybody. He was fiercely devoted to his family and his grandchildren were the love of his life. A born people person, he served as a mentor to countless others during his long and successful career in the car industry and time with the Duke City Gladiators indoor football team. He was a great patriot and never lost his gratitude for the country that took him in.
On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, Vidal Lopez, age 71, passed peacefully at his daughter’s home in Albuquerque.
Vidal was born Nov. 19, 1948 in Havana, Cuba to Severino Vidal Lopez and Bernabela Luisa Lopez. He graduated from Del Norte High School in 1967.
He served in Vietnam in the United States Army and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star — the third-highest Army decoration for valor in combat — for saving the life of an admiral’s staff member. He was honorably discharged in 1971 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Almost immediately upon his return, he ran into a girl from his West Adams neighborhood and could not help but notice how she had grown up. He married Terilee Ann Evans on Nov. 19, 1971 and the two were hardly ever apart after that.
Vidal put family above everything. Teri and Vidal proudly raised two daughters, Michon and Andrea, whom he adored. He was no less smitten by his three grandchildren.
Vidal worked in the Albuquerque car industry for 35 years, serving as a salesman, parts representative, sales manager, general manager and finance director for McCallister Dodge, Rich Ford, Bob Turner Ford, Melloy Dodge and briefly for Friday Motors in Taos. He also sold heavy equipment for several years for Rust Tractor.
In later life, he was a passionate devotee of the Gladiators of the Champions Indoor Football League, working in various capacities for the team for many years, including the 2018 and 2019 championship seasons. He was a member of Sagebrush Church and enjoyed his daily walks along the Paseo de Bosque Trail.
Vidal had been looking forward to working with former Gladiators coach Dominic Bramante, who was hired as head coach of the Indoor Football League Northern Arizona Wranglers in September. The team plans to dedicate its inaugural season to him.
Vidal is survived by his wife of 49 years, Teri; daughter, Michon Sackett, her husband Brad, and their children Jade and Scott; daughter, Andrea and her daughter Vienna; sister, Marta Quiros of Pembroke Pines, FL.; niece, Orelis Daniel, her husband Dean, and children, Nicholas and Nia, also of Pembroke Pines; niece, Odalis Tavares and her husband Bobby of Tampa, FL; and Sabrina Carroll, whom Vidal thought of as a daughter, and her husband Terry and their twins, Jaslynn and Justin.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
A service will be held on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, 12:00 p.m., at Sagebrush Church, 6440 Coors Boulevard NW, Albuquerque. Matt Caward, chaplain of the Northern Arizona Wranglers, and pastors John Caward and Andrew Poe will officiate.
Memorial contributions may be made to Disabled American Veterans at dav.org or P.O. Box 1430, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301.
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