AUSTIN (KXAN) — The sudden death of a well-known Bastrop food truck owner and restaurateur has garnered widespread support from friends and loyal customers in the community.
55-year-old Yolanda “Yoli” DeLeon, the owner of Yoli’s Tacos and More Catering, died on Tuesday from complications related to COVID-19. She was not vaccinated against the disease.
For the past few days, people have been gathering at her truck located on Chestnut Street to lay down flowers, write supportive messages and share stories with one another. DeLeon’s business, which served authentic Mexican food, won “Best of Bastrop” three years in a row.
“There’s nothing more exciting hearing your name hollered by Yoli out of that window, knowing that you get to eat your food in the next 30 seconds,” family friend Kerry Fossler said. “Food was her love language.”
Those who visited the growing memorial on Friday called her welcoming, comforting and loving to everyone who stopped by her business. One neighbor said DeLeon’s family provided their first introduction to Bastrop when they moved years ago.
“You can’t quantify what a conversation with someone like that means until they are gone, and you can’t have it,” said Chris White. “I can’t express enough how comforting and loving they are. All of them, as a family.”
Some friends said there is a lesson to be learned in DeLeon’s death. Bastrop County is behind when it comes to getting its citizens vaccinated. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, only 57% of those eligible in the county have at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. For comparison, Travis County hovers just below 72%.
Close family friends say after her death, DeLeon’s surviving family has changed their minds and will be getting vaccinated.
“There’s a whole new wave of inspiration to get vaccinated, because what louder wake up call do we need?” Fossler said.
“We don’t need another sign like this to remind us that it’s important to get taken care of,” White said.
The Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management says it is using social media to provide information to citizens on how to find a vaccine. DSHS is also organizing several back-to-school vaccination events for families in the local school districts.
As for the restaurant’s future, the family has shared with KXAN it will remain open as a tribute to Yoli DeLeon “based on the outpouring of love and stories of impact from the community.”
Funeral services will be held 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 31 at Providence Funeral Home in Bastrop. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery. Visitation will be held 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 30.