‘This is all so unreal’: Beloved patriarch of local family dies from COVID-19


Joe Esquibel is shown with his granddaughter, Maryann. Courtesy of Maryann Esquibel.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A local family is mourning the loss of its beloved patriarch. 

Maryann Esquibel said her grandfather, Joe Esquibel, died on Feb. 6 at the age of 91 after he began having trouble breathing. He had been recently been hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus. 

“This is all so unreal,” Esquibel said. “None of us can believe it because he was a very healthy man and would fight through everything.”

Esquibel said on Jan. 25, her grandfather was taken to Memorial Hospital after he began feeling sick and ended up testing positive for COVID-19. She said he was released from the hospital three days later with an oxygen tank to help him breathe. 

However, Esquibel said he returned to the hospital later that day, Jan. 28, as he continued to have breathing problems and complained that the tank wasn’t providing enough oxygen. He was readmitted to the hospital and was released on Feb. 5, she said. 

Esquibel said he was doing fine at home until the next morning, when he started struggling to breathe. The family called 911 and medical personnel arrived to provide CPR. However, it was not enough to save his life. 

“It hit us all very hard,” she said. “I’m barely trying to get over how sick I was from crying. My kids see how hurt I am, and I don’t like them to see me like that.”

Joe Esquibel was not just a grandparent to Maryann — he was essentially a father. He and his wife Nancy — who died in 2010 — raised her along with her four brothers. She said she lived with him up until she became an adult.

“He was the only man, the only father figure in my family,” she said. “(My brothers and I) called him Dad when we were little, and called grandma Mom. We didn’t know until we were older that they weren’t really our parents. We still consider them Mom and Dad.”

Esquibel said her grandfather would have turned 92 on March 8. In recognition of his birthday, she said the family is planning to hold a viewing on that day and a memorial service on March 9. 

A GoFundMe page has been created to help raise money for Joe Esquibel’s funeral expenses. 

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