Several dozen came from all parts of Alabama and neighboring states to pay their respects, bringing with them flowers and kind words.
Joaquin, 68, was struck and killed July 4 in Anniston when his wife, Hilaria, 46, accidentally backed over her husband with her car.
Heavy hearted, many of those who attended Wednesday were doing so for the second time in five days; Joaquin’s 28-year-old daughter, Xochitl Sanchez, died July 1.
Sanchez was in the hospital for a procedure in January 2012 when tests came back positive for leukemia. Joaquin and his wife were headed to a fundraiser to help pay for Sanchez’s funeral expenses when he was killed.
Celsa Allende Stallworth struggled Wednesday to put into words the pain of losing a father and sister in a week’s time.
“My sister had a really caring soul for everyone,” Stallworth said. “Loving to the last minute. Anyone who came to visit her she lifted their spirit.”
Her father moved to America from Agua Zarca, Mexico, for the first time in the late 1980s, finally settling in Wadley in the late 1990s where he found work as a welder.
A black-and-white photograph of a young, strong-jawed Joaquin sat on a table inside the church. The photograph was an enlargement of a passport photo and a symbol of his desire to find a better life for his family in America.
Stallworth, 26, described her father as a man who cared deeply for others, especially for those who chose to try and create a life in a country far away from his birthplace — as he had done.
“My dad was a friendly man. He was a father to a lot. A lot of people come over here really young,” Stallworth said. Joaquin would help them in any way he could, she said.
It was those newly-immigrated young men and women who called him Tío, Spanish for uncle, Stallworth said, because of how he looked after them, like family.
“He tried to help them as much as he could,” Stallworth said.
Another sister, Jazmin Allende, 22, is still recovering from a July 3 car accident that left her legs bruised and numb. Pregnant with the family’s first girl, Jazmin’s mother-in-law, Tammy Matthews Brown, said doctors believe the baby will be fine.
Brown said that Joaquin and Sanchez were the “heart of the family” and that such a tragedy is too much for any one family to take.
Young children rustled in their parents’ arms inside the sanctuary as Deacon Michael Cova read from the Scripture. After finishing a passage, Cova said that on July 2 the Allende family came to his home. The group prayed together and tried to cope with Sanchez’s death the day before.
“We were talking about our faith and the assurance that we too, one day, will be united with her,” Cova said. “Jack (Joaquin) said that this faith that we are talking about, we must have it, because that is what our time here on earth is. It is a journey of faith.”
Then Joaquin, chest held out, proudly read from the Bible John 14:1-6, Cova said, and “With such beauty that we were crying … You could see in his eyes and here in his voice that he was trying to find that sense of peace and assurance that he too would be with Xochitl one day.”
Those wishing to help with the family’s funeral expenses can do so by donating to a Wells Fargo account named “In Memory of Xochitl.”
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.