Jesse Lerma, an iconic Corpus Christi resident who had worked at Hamlin Fountain & Gifts for more than 60 years, has died of complications due to COVID-19, according to the drugstore's Facebook page.
Lerma was well known for the way he greeted customers, his legendary homemade chili and his indomitable work ethic.
"He would be the first one here in the morning getting everything ready for the day, including his world famous Jesse’s Homemade Chili," said Karen Nicholson, owner of Hamin Fountain & Gifts. "You could depend on Jesse to be here everyday, greeting customers and cooking for three generations. And he knew how everyone liked their hamburgers.
"We will miss his smiling face so much."
Lerma is survived by his sister.
"Jesse was like an uncle to me and my children," Nicholson said. "He has always been in our lives. He took care of us. It is so hard to know that he will not be coming in the store any more."