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The Lad, an icon of America’s immigrant and refugee history, has died.
He was 85.
He died Sunday at his home in South Bend, Ind., according to his daughter, Maria Castillo, and his granddaughter, Elsie Cesar.
He had a daughter, Mary, who lives in Miami.
“He was a legend,” Castillo said.
“I was so proud to have him in my life.
He would tell you, ‘You are my brother and my best friend.’
He’d say, ‘Oh, you should go to my house, it’s my house.’
He loved being in my house.
He could make you feel like a kid again.”
The Lad was a member of the American Legion, and he had served in the Army in World War II.
His widow, Barbara, told The Associated Press he was “one of the best, most caring men I’ve ever met.”
He had been in and out of nursing homes since he was in his early 30s, and Castillo has been in touch with him in recent years.
The Lad’s family said in a statement that he was a beloved member of his community.