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'He Was A Very Nice Person': Worker At Whole Foods In Swampscott Dies Of Coronavirus

SWAMPSCOTT (CBS) -- A Whole Foods worker in Swampscott has died from coronavirus complications. The family of 53-year-old Leon Marin of Lynn said he was the hardest working man.

"He'd go to work with a smile, happy, he was tired all the time but he enjoyed what he did," his son Jaun Marin told WBZ-TV. "None of us expecting it, the hardest part not being there with him, not able to apologize and talk to him."

He worked 70 hours a week, dividing his time as a cook between the Swampscott Whole Foods and a restaurant at Logan Airport. He became ill three weeks ago and was finally placed on a ventilator. His family was never able to say goodbye.

"It's been hard to keep it together," Juan said. "Can't get over the fact that he's gone."

Leon Marin

A family friend said his wife, who has asthma, is now very sick as well. She also said he was the sole worker for his family.

"It's very heartbreaking because he is the man who supports his house, according to his wife. And I know they've had some difficult times," the friend said.

Whole Foods is offering counseling support to his coworkers. The news has devastated the community of front-line workers who put themselves at risk every day.

swampscott whole foods
The Whole Foods store in Swampscott. (WBZ-TV)

"Literally I needed to drink water to calm down because he was a very, very nice person," one of his Whole Foods coworkers told WBZ-TV.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called the grocery employee, "somebody who's an essential worker, who took that role seriously, who was part of a community, that made it possible for other people to access a necessity."

"For that person, and for their co-workers, and their family, and their friends, this is the worst of all possible things, and the way COVID works just makes it that much more brutal," he said.

A shopper named Layah said the news was heartbreaking.

"A lot of workers are part of my family, my heart breaks for everyone suffering," she said. "Those on the front lines risk their lives everyday."

Kay Hannity, who works at a liquor store next to Whole Foods, talked about the challenge retail workers face.

"If you're out there dealing with people doing public service you're at risk, higher risk," she said. "You don't know who you're dealing with sometimes, some people might be sick and you don't know that."

Swampscott Select Board chair Peter Spellios said Whole Foods has cooperated with new town mandates that employees and shoppers in all retail stores must wear masks.

"There's been good communication and good cooperation," he said. "They seem to be taking it seriously and have been responsive to things we've been asking for."

Earlier this month, Salem Market Basket and Lynn Walmart worker Vitalina Williams, 59, died of coronavirus.

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