ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — An Arlington community is mourning the loss of its beloved mailman who died over the weekend from COVID-19 complications. Jesus Collazos suffered a stroke about a month ago that was caused by the coronavirus. Collazos was 67-years-old and and was most looking forward to being a grandfather to his three grandchildren, Juliana, Braden and Desmond. 

The neighborhood that he worked in comforted him while he was in the hospital. Thanks to the work of Penny Nicholakos, the neighbors hung a banner outside of his home with hundreds of messages and signatures from those who were thinking of him. People also left cards, plants, and gifts at the Collazos’ front door. 

Penny hasn’t even met the family, but as the community’s response grew, Penny became the middleman; posting the family’s updates to social media while the banner moved from house to house for more signatures. “There are so many stories I heard from neighbors about our wonderful mailman, Jesus,” Penny said.

“Like I’ve said before I know my dad is a staple in this community,” his daughter Vanessa wrote on Facebook. “The outpouring of love is amazing and so beautiful. Even during this pandemic, our neighborhood can find a way to come together to support us as a family. Thank you everyone for loving my dad and my family. Penny Nicholakos thank you so much for setting this up.” 

“I thought long about why this person meant so much to me when I would run into him only on occasion as I moved from my parents’ home many years ago. The times we did speak, it was heartfelt. I learned a lot and he just felt like family. A very hard working immigrant who did everything for his wife and kids,” Nicholakos wrote.

“I was doing renovations and I needed a concrete guy. He had three names and numbers for me,” Nicholakos said over Zoom on Monday. “A good friend of mine a few doors down, her parents were moving into an assisted living place. And she’s like, ‘Jesus sold my parents’ house for us.’ He missed out on a lot of commission for what he did for us.”

“A lot of mailmen, including where I live now, they do their job; they don’t really talk to you. He was the opposite,” she said. “If I saw him coming I’d run outside to grab the mail from him and save him a few steps. He would talk to everybody.”

His daughter Vanessa announced his death on her Facebook page. “Our family near and far prayed for his recovery, our friends prayed, our entire community prayed. Our prayers weren’t answered in the way that we asked but in many different ways they were. We are eternally grateful for all the support we’ve received. You only get one father in this life. My brother and I are truly blessed to have had one of the best. I’m grateful to have been able to call him Papi. thank you papi for being an amazing father, husband and role model. Te quiero mucho papi que descanse con los angelitos.”