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2 Tootsie Roll employees die of COVID-19

There had been 18 cases of COVID-19 at the company’s Southwest Side manufacturing plant.

Cosme Tenorio, center, with his grandchildren
Cosme Tenorio, center, with his grandchildren
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Two employees of the Tootsie Roll manufacturing plant on the Southwest Side have died of COVID-19.

The company announced last month that 18 employees had contracted the disease.

Cosme Tenorio and Angel Butron loved their jobs at the candymaker, their families said.

Tenorio, 62, was a maintenance man and had been with the company for 43 years. He died Tuesday at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn.

One of his last duties at the plant was posting signs and marking spots on the floor in an employee lunchroom to encourage social distancing, his wife, Maria Tenorio, told the Sun-Times.

Tenorio lived in Oak Lawn and loved spending time with family, including his five children and 11 grandchildren.

He planned to retire this summer and move back to his hometown in Mexico.

He could often be found in his garage, listening to loud Mexican music or watching television.

“I used to tell him ‘Take the pillow and blanket, don’t come back,’” Maria Tenorio said with a laugh.

“When we got back from the hospital that’s the first thing my son did was [he] went to the garage and turned on his music real loud and cried,” she said.

He also loved the White Sox, planting flowers and tending to his tomatoes and peppers in the yard.

“He canned peppers and tomatoes and gave them to friends. And he loved to dance. He’d say ‘If you don’t want to dance with me, I will dance with someone else,” she said.

Butron, another Tootsie Roll employee who’d been with the company for 50 years and worked on a machine that mixed ingredients, died Saturday at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center LaGrange.

Butron, 75, lived near Midway Airport and came to the United States from Mexico in 1969.

“He just always had work on his mind, and it was important for him to know that family was taken care of,” his son Isaac Butron told the Sun-Times.

Angel Butron with his wife, Carmen, in Mexico celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018.
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When he arrived in the United States, people helped Butron get his feet on the ground, so he made sure to do the same for others. Anyone who needed a meal, a place to stay for a few weeks, a way to get a car fixed — he’d help, family said.

“He was a great man and always thought of others,” Isaac Butron said.

Butron, who didn’t finish high school, beamed with pride at the thought of his children and their accomplishments.

His namesake son, Angel, is a nurse practitioner and an assistant clinical professor at DePaul University. And both Isaac and his sister, Monica, are educators.

“He had an American dream, and he did accomplish that and more,” said Isaac Butron’s wife, Valerie.

Butron would have celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary with his wife, Carmen, in November.

A Tootsie Roll spokesman said in an email: “We are deeply saddened that two of our employees have passed away recently after contracting COVID-19, and we offer our sincere condolences to all those touched by this loss.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees and communities. We are continuing to follow guidance from federal, state and local health authorities to do all we can to help keep everyone healthy during this difficult time.”