Pedro Romero was a drummer and a pastor

play

play

This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration working to celebrate the life of every New Jersey resident who died of COVID-19. To learn more and submit a loved one’s name to be profiled, visit lovedandlostnj.com.

There was nothing more important to Pedro Romero than his faith and his family.

The 43-year-old father of four from Cresskill had grown up without a father, and that missing link in his childhood inspired his vow that his children would never know such heart-rending emptiness in their own lives.

The Passaic High School graduate was a born extrovert — a warm and welcoming soul who was, his wife Tammy said, the life of any party.

The couple met in 2002, while working in a band together — Tammy was a singer and bass player, and Pedro was the band’s drummer. “He was a really fun guy,” Tammy remembered. “He loved to laugh. He loved life.”

He was also deeply religious, and after working and traveling as a musician, Pedro followed the call of his faith into the ministry.

Four years after they met, the couple made music together as husband and wife.

Tammy continued her career as a teacher until their second child was born, while Pedro became an associate pastor at the Living Word Community Church before founding his own church, Iglesia Amigos de Cristo, later the Friends of Christ Community Church, in Bergen County.

Pedro served as senior pastor there while also operating Victory Cleaning Services in Bergenfield, a residential and commercial cleaning business.

Each Sunday, Pedro preached to his congregation, posting his sermons on YouTube. Tammy turned her teaching expertise to home-schooling their kids — Vanessa, 12; Pedro, 10; Victoria, 8; and Ricardo, 6.

All of their children learned to play musical instruments, and the couple joked that they would become like the Trapp Family Singers, the family group that inspired the film, “The Sound of Music.”

“He loved to brag about them and support them,” Tammy said.

When his kids developed an interest in chess,  Pedro took an interest as well.

 “I want to learn the game of chess so I can better communicate with my kids,” he told Tammy. Eventually, Pedro became expert enough to serve as their chess coach.

Like their dad, the Romero kids loved sports, whether watching football and baseball or playing. “As a family, we did Jujitsu,” Tammy said. “He really loved it, and all the kids did that with him.”

His enthusiasm for life was an inexhaustible resource, embracing not only his own small tribe, but their extended family and friends, members of their church, and clients of his cleaning business.

“My husband is super-outgoing,” Tammy said.

And while he tried to observe COVID precautions, there were occasions when he’d reach out for a hug or a handshake before he remembered.

“He would just forget,” Tammy said. “He’d say, ‘I’m just so happy to see you.’ He was just super-extroverted, which is what I miss about him.

She and Pedro went out to dinner on April 15, 2021, their fifteenth anniversary. It was the first time they had ventured out to a restaurant since the COVID lockdown began in early 2020.

By early May, the whole family had gotten sick. Pedro had had asthma attacks in the past, and at first he thought this was not as bad.

But as the rest of the family recovered, Pedro continued to struggle.

Three weeks after he’d first felt sick, Tammy persuaded him to go to the hospita.

He died on June 7, 2021, at the age of 43.

Now, the ache of his loss is a daily presence.

“It’s still so raw,” Tammy said. “It’s still so crushing. He wanted to so badly to be a father for his kids.”