Over thirty years ago I met Cosme Arturo Romero Diaz. He was working at Lovey’s Restaurant. At the time he needed a room, and I had a spare in the house that I was restoring, so for a short while he was my tenant. We became friends, and that friendship has endured for these many years.

Arturo is Mexican by nationality. He arrived in Warwick through family connections. Prior to being here life took him many places including Norway where he and his late wife lived and had a son, Olaf. Olaf continued to live in Norway with his mother’s family but visited his dad every summer in Warwick. Even though separated they had a strong father/son bond. This was well before I became a dad and Arturo was a great example and taught me early lessons in fatherhood.

Working in a local restaurant or cafe in a small town immediately gives you visibility. Arturo has worked in many of our local eateries, and he’s known by many as a kind, responsible and sensitive man who besides working hard, has a passion for long distance running.

From the moment I met Arturo he desired to become an American citizen. He considered Warwick and America his home and the friends he had here truly an extended family. This desire became a journey that took him to many naturalization legal professionals and I helped him, as much as I could, to get through the administrative and legal maze. He hit many walls along the way but never gave up.

When Arturo met Terri, I think they knew how important they would be for each other. Their relationship grew over time and their support for each other was also about commitment. Five years ago, I was honored to unite them in marriage. This helped his pathway to citizenship.

On Monday of this week, January 3rd Arturo and Terri stopped by my office, waited patiently till I was free. To my delight Arturo showed me his Certificate of Naturalization. Never had I seen, in the thirty years of friendship, such a happy man. He and Terri received the certificate in a formal ceremony in Albany. Terri told me when Arturo took the citizenship exam, he had 99 of the 100 questions correct.

A long awaited and significant moment in a life. A deliberate decision so well considered and fervently desired.  Congratulations my friend, my fellow American.