Couple, Married 33 Years, Die One Week Apart From COVID-19

Richard and Mercedes Hartwig

NBC Universal, Inc.

Richard and Mercedes Hartwig's children say their parents made an excellent team, each one bringing to the marriage something completely different.

"Yes, like two ends of a stick," daughter Naomi Hartwig said. "Completely opposite."

The couple, who raised three children in Santa Clara and most recently resided in Lathrop, both died of COVID-19 in separate hospitals one week apart. Richard Hartwig had two children, Scott and Shelly, from a previous marriage.

Richard and Mercedes were both immigrants to the United States, he from The Netherlands and she from El Salvador. The two met while both working at a factory in Santa Clara in the 1980s.

Richard , who struggled for years with post-traumatic stress, the result of his experiences in the Vietnam war, was the introvert of the two.

"He liked to stay home," his son, Edward Hartwig said. Richard, his children said, could always be found on Sundays watching football and rooting for his favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers.

Mercedes, on the other hand, was the outgoing one, often heading out with friends to pursue her dual passions of music and dancing.

"Dancing was my mom's main passion," Edward said. "She loved going out and going to festivals," her son, Rene added. "She went to the San Jose Jazz Festival every year."

For all their differences, what Richard and Mercedes shared was a deep love of family. Through years of difficult financial and crises, their focus was always on giving their children what they needed, once again, in different ways.

"My mother was always there for the comfort and affection," Edward said. "Dad showed his love by showing us how to do things in life."

Contact Us