“A Sweet and Honorable Legacy”
How the tragic loss of their daughter inspired Dennis and Virgie Roy to volunteer for the Red Cross
“I feel so grateful and blessed that God gave us a daughter like that, so I said I will continue what she started. She had a big heart.”
Virgie Roy is talking about her daughter, Patricia. On August 4, 2017, just three days after her 22nd birthday, Patricia Roy died in a car accident. An Airman First Class and Cargo Specialist at Travis Air Force Base, Patricia had plans to become a nurse, following in her mother’s footsteps.
Virgie and Dennis Roy say their daughter was a leader and a shining light in her workplace, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron (APS).
“Every time I would visit her workplace, her colleagues would say, ‘Oh we haven’t seen your daughter angry,’” says Virgie. “She’s always smiling, even if she’s busy and then if there’s a staff who is not happy, my daughter would just approach her and say ‘are you ok? Do you need some prayers?’“
Dennis Roy says those memories of his daughter prompted him to sign up to volunteer for the Red Cross in 2020.
“I got inspired by a lot of testimonies coming from the colleagues of Patricia, those virtues of being kind-hearted, service-oriented.”
The Roy family came to the United States from the Philippines in 2014, when Virgie was accepted into a program for foreign-trained nurses.
They were excited for their daughter and two sons to grow up in the U.S.
For Virgie, becoming a nurse was a natural step. Her mother is a doctor in the Philippines, and a Red Cross volunteer. Virgie worked in her mother’s medical clinic and joined in those volunteer missions.
“Since grade school, high school, I was already involved in this,” laughs Virgie. “I’m holding the first aid kit (laughing), I’m doing the vital signs, I was young then but I could do some of the easy jobs.”
Now, Virgie works in the Surgery Center at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.
“The 60th APS, the squadron of my daughter, became our second family. So I said I think it will give me comfort if I can see some of her colleagues.”
Dennis works in a skilled nursing facility, supervising the clinical documentation, and assisting the Director of Nursing. He also donates his time to the Red Cross.
“When we came here in the U.S. our orientation was mainly focused on material opportunities, which is basically human nature. We wanted to have a house like this, we wanted travel, we wanted to acquire cars, etc.”
He says the loss of his daughter changed his perspective.
“It made me think to follow that kind of legacy, I should probably give back to communities that have given us so much.”
Last year, Virgie joined Dennis in volunteering for the Red Cross. This year, she walked in the Veterans Day Parade in Fairfield, handing out thank you cards to veterans.
“It’s really heart-warming. I was smiling all throughout, waving and saying ‘thank you for your service, sir,’ and you know, you can see their smiles, they’re also very happy that we appreciate their service.”
Dennis and Virgie both also volunteered with the Red Cross during San Francisco’s Fleet Week in 2022, demonstrating CPR and basic life support. They’ve also helped out at the Air Show at Travis AFB. Now, they’ve become informal “recruiters,” encouraging others to join the Red Cross:
“Some of my colleagues at work want to volunteer with the Red Cross. You know, when you post something on Facebook and they see your pictures, they say, ‘hey, how did you do that?’ So we tell them, you simply go to the Red Cross website and register yourself. It’s easy!”
Now Dennis is applying to nursing school in his daughter’s memory.
“Her hard work and sacrifices really inspired me to push through in pursuing her aspirations.”
The Roys also volunteer with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces team at Travis AFB, where they feel a special connection. Every year, they celebrate Patricia’s birthday with her former squadron, and this year, the base named the lobby of the 60th APS Squadron The Patricia Roy Memorial Gateway.
“We are so extremely grateful for all these wonderful opportunities that Red Cross has given to us,” says Dennis, “and for being able to pursue a kind of sweet and honorable legacy of doing service for our community members.”