CALUMET HEIGHTS — When customers walked into Calumet Fisheries, the first thing they’d see was the giant smile of longtime manager, Carlos Rosas.
“He always smiled,” co-owner Mark Kotlick said. “You’d never see Carlos frown. He was always thinking of the next joke or the next thing to say to you. You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth, but that was the charm of Carlos.”
Rosas, who worked at the South Side staple along the Calumet River at 95th Street for 25 years, died of COVID-19 on Monday. He was 41.
“Carlos was our ambassador,” Calumet Fisheries posted on its Facebook page. “He always had a smile on his face and would greet you with a warm ‘hello.’ He was a big guy with a heart to match. I will miss him dearly as an employee and my friend.”
The fishery, known for its award winning smoked fish for over 90 years, received hundreds of comments on their post.
“I called him my Lil Brother but he was Mr. Hospitality at the Store,” Rudolph Zavala Jr. wrote. “He got a smile out of everyone and made sure you left with a smile and loved his workers. He was a big guy with a huge smile and a big heart.”
It was a smile Kotlick said was filled with charisma and warmth. There was never a slow moment when they were around him because of his jokester personality and kind heart.
“He really cared about the customers and the people that were in his life and he always took the time out to say hello to you, to try to gain your confidence.”
Rosas began working at the fishery at age 16, where he met Bobbie Morales, a former manager.
When she first hired Rosas, she caught a glimpse of his honesty and unique character as he questioned her reasoning behind hiring him.
“During the interview, he looked me straight in the eyes … and said to me: Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” she said. “I mean here’s a child, questioning an adult, and I thought it was so funny because it was so honest. … That’s how we met and he always stood out with that remark.”
When he began working at the shop, Rosas quickly grew on her and became like an adopted son.
“He was a friend that only crosses your life once, and when you have that friend my God, never let him go,” Morales said. “He was kind, caring, considerate, and there wasn’t a selfish bone in that boy’s body.”
For Rolando Deluna, who knew him for 22 years, Rosas was a man who always brought laughter into his life.
Rosas would send him goofy messages at random moments over the phone or would make even funny cracks in person, a quality that made him authentic.
“He made you feel special and that’s the thing that he taught a lot of people,” Deluna said. “Carlos treated everyone as a VIP and that’s probably the hardest thing that’s going to be missed from that store.”
He said his warmth and treatment towards his customers and family is something that will be certainly missed.
“He would do anything for you before he would do it for himself and these days it’s very hard to find people like that,” Deluna said.
To his friends, Rosas was a family man, always keeping his family as a priority in his life and an individual. For friends like Morales, he was not only a part of her family, but a lucky charm in her life.
“He was just that bright light in the dark room.”
Wakes for Rosas will be held from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at 13300 S. Houston Ave. and beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at St Kevin’s Catholic Church at 10509 S. Torrence Ave. The burial will follow at St. John/St. Joseph Cemetery at 1547 167th St. in Hammond.