Ind. baker pays tribute to fallen soldiers

November 10, 2010 (LAKE STATION, Ind.)

Santa Maria Bakery on Central Avenue in Lake Station, Ind., features old Mexican recipes of the sweet things in life. Cuadra is the man behind the new business-- and this is his new life. He lost his construction job because of illness and nearly lost everything else until he was down to his last few bucks.

"I decided to sell the last thing I had left, which was my truck because I had lost my house and everything. So I sold my truck for $5,000, which was enough. So I followed my dream and I got my bakery," said Cuadra.

It took all the money and months of training to open up shop. However, Cuadra isn't just an artist with baking goods. He's also a gifted portrait artist and right now his subjects are the fallen soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a small room in the back of the bakery he turns photos into portraits of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. He hasn't lost anyone in the war but that doesn't matter.

"They are heroes and for me to just be able to do something for the families so they can keep... how can I say, keep them alive," said Cuadra.

Cuadra has painted since he was a child and his talent is obvious, but he has never done anything like this before: a tribute to soldiers from every state.

"Basically I'm doing five for each state. But right now, if I live long enough to do all 5,000, if God will let me," Cuadra said.

Cuadra paints the portraits, builds the frames and his work is sent anonymously as a gift to the families.

Santa Maria Bakery
2580 Central Ave.
Lake Station, IN 46405
(219) 765-8711

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