STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
BURNET — Randy Longoria wanted the people of Burnet to know he had their backs.
The parks supervisor’s response to anything asked of him might vary between “I got this,” “No problem,” or “What can I do?”
One response no one ever heard: “No.”
“If any department ever asked Longoria for help in any way, there was never a ‘no.’ It was, ‘I got your back.’ He always had everybody’s back no matter what,” said Kim Wilson, a crew leader with the Burnet Parks and Recreation Department and a friend of Longoria, who she considered family. “If somebody in the community was needing a cook for a fundraiser, he never said no.”
Longoria passed away Aug. 4 at the age of 50. He had worked for the city since 2004.
Those who knew and loved him best showed their support for Longoria on Aug. 6 when his body was returned to Burnet.
Law enforcement and more than 20 city trucks escorted Longoria’s body into town, through the city’s maintenance facility one last time, then to Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home.
Visitation is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at the funeral home, 306 Texas 29 East. A funeral service is 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, also at the funeral home.
Such a demonstration for a city employee is rare, which speaks volumes about how people viewed Longoria.
Business owner Damon Beierle said he first met Longoria when Longoria started working for the city.
“He did everything with a smile, and he did everything like he was happy to do it,” Beierle said. “It’s very rare to find anybody like that.”
City Manager David Vaughn didn’t know how to begin in recalling Longoria’s contribution to the community because he consistently offered himself to help others.
“For example, the fire on Park Road 4, Longoria was one of the first to show up at the community center and stay there to make sure everybody was taken care of,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said Longoria’s contributions in his 14 years with the city will make it difficult to imagine his loss.
“I absolutely loved the man,” Vaughn said. “He touched so many lives and did so much for so many people. There are very few of us who aren’t replaceable, but he was one that you can’t have enough of them like him.”
Longoria earned the respect of city employees through his leadership. Not only did he have a plan, he carried everyone with him by his example. Longoria was willing to work beside his crew and stood by them instructing if they struggled. He never belittled anyone or made them feel stupid.
“He respected all of us; it’s why our crew loved him so much,” Wilson said. “If he asked you to come and do something, and if you weren’t sure, you were never afraid to say ‘Can you show me? Can you teach me?’ He respected us all and never acted like he was any better than us.”
To the community, Longoria was known for his barbecue, especially his brisket, ribs, and pork loin. Never seeking recognition, many people probably ate his food and never knew. He catered fundraisers, city retirement parties, and even the yearly State of the City.
“His barbecue, oh, my god, I’m speechless,” Wilson said. “It was the best. It’s why everybody called on Longoria.”
In the escort back to town, Wilson drove Longoria’s truck directly behind Longoria. In their years together at the parks department, Wilson had plenty of memories of her best friend, but his spirit is one she hopes will carry on now that Longoria is gone so soon.
“What I hope is that people learn to love each other,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Longoria was the type who offered a smile, hug, or word of encouragement to anybody he saw to offset the ugliness in the world.
“I hope at least one person has learned that from Randy,” she said. “I hope there’s somebody to pass that one, to show kindness. There’s really good people out there, and we lost one.”
Longoria leaves behind a wife, Debbie, two daughters, a son, and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by another daughter.