Scout leader and nurse who advocated for PPE amid pandemic dies at 58
Micheal Chacon, a Boy Scouts leader, nurse and union representative for colleagues on Long Island who treated patients during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, has died. He was 58.
Chacon died Feb. 21 of a suspected heart attack at a family member's home in Bellport, according to his widow.
During the peak of the pandemic, Chacon spoke up over sparse protective equipment given to nurses — for instance, items that were meant for single use having to be re-used over multiple days.
"We don't mind walking in the building and caring for those patients who have contagious diseases. We don't mind caring for those patients who are difficult to deal with," he told Newsday then, but added: "It feels like caution is being thrown to the wind."
In his time with the New York State Nurses Association union, he helped bargain for contracts, organize nurses, and lead strikes for more favorable contracts, according to the group's press secretary Carl Ginsburg. Chacon also led visits to lobby the state legislature.
"Whether visiting members on the hospital floor, leading [registered nurse] workshops, speaking at informational pickets or on a strike line, his leadership and determination carried the day as the ranks of NYSNA nurses steadily grew. He tackled the pandemic with that same knowledge and grit," the group's executive director, Nancy Kaleda, said in a statement.
At Chacon's funeral, Alan Isaac, the Boy Scouts' Troop 125 representative, of which Chacon was the committee chair, recalled a man devoted to scouting who also brought a nurse's expertise to outings.
"Mr. Chacon crossed the paths of so many lives," Isaac said.
A fraternal twin, Miguel Chacon was born February 19, 1964, at Walther Memorial Hospital in Chicago to Ellen Chacon (Michel) from Maspeth, Queens, a secretary of Irish descent, and Victor Chacon, a truck driver from Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
He was raised in Chicago and while he finished eighth grade, he did not complete high school. He went on to earn a GED, an associate's degree in nursing in 1993 from Nassau Community College, a bachelor's of science in nursing from the online University of Phoenix, and a master's of science in nursing, clinical nurse education, in 2017 from online Jacksonville University.
When he was 19, he came to live in New York and stayed with his sister in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
He was married to Robyn Campbell on October 13, 1990. She survives him.
The two had met in July 1988 at a bridal shower. She was hosting the event at a VFW hall in Ridgewood, Queens, and he was the bartender. The couple eventually lived in Commack, but first lived in an apartment in Ridgewood when they were first married. The couple moved to Long Island when their oldest son was turning 1.
His early jobs included work at a box factory and as an emergency medical technician, as well as a company that made Xerox copies.
Later, he was a registered nurse, working at Wykoff hospital, in the emergency room.
Off duty, he was with Troop 125, based in in Commack, including as a first-aid merit badge counselor, an Eagle Scout coach and a Sea Base High Adventure leader and participant. His son Michael is an Eagle Scout, and another son, Matthew, is an Eagle Scout candidate.
Chacon was also a soccer coach for all four of his boys; on the last team he coached, the Dominators, his son Michael was a goalie for five years. The team won the sportsmanship award four times.
The funeral was Feb. 26 at Commack United Methodist Church. He was cremated.
Chacon is survived by siblings Victor Chacon of Chicago; Frank Chacon of Hammond, Indiana; Nilda Pena of Elmwood Park, Illinois; Ruben Chacon of Chicago; Doris Gutierrez of Elmwood Park, Illinois; Michelle Lisboa of Des Plaines, Illinois; and his twin, Victoria Diaz, of North Port, Florida. He was preceded in death by brother Armando Lisboa and sister Christina Martinez.
His children survive him: Christopher Chacon, 28; Ryan Chacon, 26; Michael Chacon, 19; and Matthew Chacon, 16, all of Commack. He adopted Jesena Bonilla, now 40, of Burbank, Illinois, as an adult after the two reconnected about a decade ago via Facebook. (He had been involved in raising her as a younger man in a previous relationship with Bonilla's mom.)
"'I believe it's never too late to right a wrong,'" she recalled him saying, before she broke down in tears on Tuesday. She added: "My dad was the most intentional person that I know. He just really made an effort to be in people's lives. He really just made that a priority."
He has two grandchildren, Bonilla's son and daughter.