Respected Fargo veteran passes away from COVID-19
Community comes together to remember Ray Pizarro.
FARGO — U.S. Army veterans Drew Nathan and Mike Bradley are friends because of Ray Pizarro's work in the veteran community. As of Monday, Jan. 10, they will now have to go through life without him.
"I'm going to miss my brother," Bradley said about his friend. "You are the reason that I am still here. You are the reason that I did not end my watch. You are the reason."
That's something Bradley told Pizarro often once their friendship began in 2007.
Pizarro's 16 years in the Minnesota National Guard and U.S. Army saw him serve two tours in Iraq and helped inspire him to give back to fellow veterans.
"He literally was a pebble in the pond," Bradley said. "I used to tell him — and he was so humble about it — that you drop a rock in the pond and it would make waves."
Pizarro's passion led him to work fundraisers for plenty of programs, including the Patriot Assistance Dogs: A group that trains rescue dogs for veterans dealing with PTSD.
Nathan helped with that fundraiser two years in a row, bicycling across North Dakota while Pizarro rode behind and supported him from the truck.
"What Ray means to me is: he was an amazing friend, an amazing professional in the community," said Nathan.
Nathan served in the army from 1996 to 2019, and he met Ray in 2016.
Both Nathan and Bradley knew Pizarro as a funny guy and a strong man.
"Ray was able to really be calm in a chaotic situation," Nathan said.
After contracting COVID-19 in early December after a pheasant hunt, he held on until Jan. 10., leaving behind his wife, Susan, a daughter, six children, a grand child, and a colossal effect on the veteran community.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support Pizarro's family as well as funeral and medical expenses.
"A distinguished, a dynamic, a prolific individual that will be missed, incredibly," said Nathan.