Avila, originally from El Paso, began creating sand art about 15 years ago in Chula Vista, California. He then moved to Mission Beach and finally to Coronado. It was there that he received the name The Coronado Sandman.
Avila moved back to El Paso to live with his daughter after he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Since moving back to El Paso, Avila had been creating his art on the streets and sidewalks of east El Paso. Many El Pasoans would recognize Avila on the streets as he was always dressed in a white shirt and tie, black pants and his trademark cap.
Once word broke that Avila had passed, many expressed their condolences to his family via social media. Some sharing photos and selfies of themselves and their children with Avila and his sand art.
Avila was a Jefferson High School graduate and the school remembered him as a man who brought smiles and joy to the people of El Paso saying in a Facebook post ,
"We are saddened to report that an El Paso icon and Silver Fox has passed away today. The Sandman once said “If I were paid on commission or salary other than donations or invitations to draw or tell my story, it would take away from the meaning beside why I do it. I draw for people to make people smile. It would taint my work if I did it for money. That’s not why I am here.”
"We thank you for your love and support. If you’d like to help our family with funeral expenses you can donate here. All proceeds will go to funeral and memorial costs," read the Facebook fundraising post.
Avila's family is inviting the public to celebrate the life of an El Paso icon.
Visitation will take place on Monday, Jan. 21st from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. at Crestview Funeral Home which is located at 1462 Zaragoza Road, El Paso, TX 79936. The vigil will be at 7 p.m.
Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 22nd at St. Pius Catholic Church at 10:00 a.m.
Avila's family said that he spent his last few years doing what he loved, creating his unique art for the people of his community, and they are hoping his legacy will live on through the people who loved him.