Virgil Sanchez Sr. (Photo courtesy of George Sanchez)

Virgil Sanchez Sr., who opened Goldrush cafe in 1980 with his children, died last week. He was 81.

Sanchez grew up in McAllen, Texas, and was an electrical engineer. He fought in the Korean War, moved to Dallas in 1957 and attended SMU. After a career with Collins Radio Company, E-Systems and other corporations, he helped found Goldrush in 1980 to be a place for his family to run. He and his wife Esther, who died eight years ago, had five children and 12 grandchildren.

Sanchez’s son George can be found at Goldrush most days. He says his father was as selfless as they came. “The guy was a giver, and he lived by God’s law,” George says. “He was always for others, not for himself.”

Sanchez’s sons worked in the food industry prior to opening Goldrush, and when the opportunity came to open up a diner in East Dallas, they went in together. Sanchez put the deal together, drew up the plans and paid the rent for the restaurant. “It was a family affair from day one,” George says.

Virgil with three of his sons in the early days of Goldrush (Photo courtesy of George Sanchez).

Sanchez’s four sons (Virgil Jr., John, George and Mark) and daughter (Liz) all worked at the restaurant at some point. “Nowadays we have employees that aren’t family, but we treat everyone like family” George says.

Virgil was known for his generosity, acceptance and his friendly face, making friends with his distributors and the stores where he made food purchases. He would often offer neighbors who were experiencing homelessness food if they needed it. He knew many of them by name.

“Dad had a kind heart,” George says. “He was open and helpful to everybody and he taught us to live that way.”

In the final days, Sanchez suffered from dementia, but he never failed to ask his son George how business was that day. It has been a tough week for the family, but they look forward to getting back to doing what they love: serving the neighborhood at Goldrush.

“My dad started more than a small cafe back in 1980. He started a small community, which grows larger every day. He would want us to continue,” George says. “We try to live the way he would want us to and continue his legacy.”

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