Hospital worker has given of herself to community for 44 years


Antonia Gonzales, the food service manager for Gonzales Healthcare Systems, is an amazing community leader and inspiration woman.

Affectionately known as Toni, she has been with Gonzales Healthcare Systems since 1978. For many years, this hard-working, kind and dedicated employee has made the patients, staff, doctors and the community her family and her home.

How many years have you worked in dietary/food services?

Since I was very young, I worked in food service, as a dish washer and as a waitress, and always wanted to learn more and grow in the job.

How many years have you been at Gonzales Healthcare?

In June of this year I will be here 44 years. I started at the old hospital in 1978 and moved with the opening of the new location that same year in October of 1978.

Why did you begin on this career path?

I was raised in a family that was in a food business. My parents did their own butchering, harvesting, raising and cultivating food for the community. They always made sure that we raised animals, like chickens, pigs, and cows. We would also keep some of these animals for our own family, and grew our own food. I come from a family of 14. I always helped mom with the fixing of food and when we were going to butcher. I grew up with food being a source of comfort, warmth, familiarity and a sense of home.

Why do you remain in this career?

Because I enjoy working with our customers, our patients, our staff, and our doctors.

What makes you successful in your role?

When we first started at the old hospital I started as a dishwasher, I didn’t want to stay a dishwasher, forever, so I would watch the cook. He would always throw things together and it would come out real good. He would always tell me you don’t have to be scared, when you’re cooking just think about what’s going to make the food taste good, the meat or the chicken, and throw it in there, and you’ll see. So I would watch him, and learned to cook and prepare, especially in a hurry, and that’s how I learned some of the tips, watching that chef. I enjoyed it, so I would cook for my family, at home and here, and everyone enjoyed it, and it brought me pleasure to watch them enjoy what I prepared. Everyone always comments that our food here is so good, and it’s because we do not buy prepared food, we make everything from scratch. That’s what they always comment on, here, that it doesn’t taste like hospital food. I am successful because I care for my patients and my coworkers and we treat each other like family.

Who motivates you?


Do you have a favorite quote?

Always try to please, be humble and please.

Why do you choose to continue your career path in Gonzales, Texas?

My kids were all born and raised here and I always strive to have them come in to the medical business, too. I have three registered nurses, and my son didn’t want to be in the business, but he has his degree in fishing, a captain’s license. He says, Momma I didn’t go into the medical field, but I do still catch fish and skin them.

What does your future look like?

My future, I am not ready to retire, I am going to be 66 this year, thank God I am in good health and I like working with my employees and my coworkers. This is my family. My future is being here and continuing to be part of the organization and taking care of my work family as my career.

Anything else that you would like to add?

As I have aged here I have seen patients who come and have their kids, and then I see those children born and then grown up and working alongside me at the hospital. This is my life. We have grown tremendously, we are working with each other to continue growing and to continue serving our community, as a whole. Times are hard, the epidemic threw us for a big curve, but we are now back on track as to people coming back to work. It’s been a tremendous struggle trying to survive but we’ve made it.

At this point as the interview was wrapping up, Toni became emotional and began tearing up. It then came to attention that this dedicated, kind and hard working individual had just lost her own child, an LVN working in San Antonio at a nursing home for nuns. Her 44 year old beloved daughter had contracted and succumbed to COVID-19 just this past February.

After apologizing for delaying the photo shoot at the end of the interview several times, Toni quickly pulled herself together, and kindly posed while being both giving of her time and professional. It occurred that, in fact, this would be the best way to describe Toni.

No matter her own struggles, sorrow, pain or personal issues she has spent almost four and a half decades bringing comfort, care, nourishment and kindness to those most in need at the hospital, the patients and coworkers.

She has done this even through her own grief and pain, worrying that the COVID patients at the hospital were not receiving her best, having to discuss their meal through a phone instead of in person, because of the pandemic.

This young at heart example of community love and strength is both a source of inspiration and hope for the entire county of Gonzales, as well as the world.

As Holly Danz, GHS marketing director, stated, “Everyone loves Toni, she takes care of all of us, remembering what we each like and making sure we have what we need.”