ALLEN, Texas (CBS11) – Dozens gathered Tuesday evening to say farewell to a North Texan they knew simply as The Big Guy.

The magical presence of The Big Guy was missing Tuesday as friends and fans gathered to remember him the day after Christmas at The Grove at The Village at Allen.

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People gathering at The Grove at The Village at Allen to remember The Big Guy. (Yona Gavino – CBS11)

The Big Guy’s been a fixture at Fairview Town Center and area malls playing Santa for nearly two decades.

“He was patient. He was sweet. He was kind. He was like the real thing! He was Santa. He was our Santa,” said Esther Terry.

Terry, her husband Aaron and their five kids collected 13 years of stories and pictures along the way, starting with their oldest, who’s now 13.

“She was about this size. A little smaller, actually. She was one and that was our first Santa Clause picture,” said Aaron Terry.

“This was our first year we weren’t able to take a picture.” said Esther Terry.

The shopping center announced that he died after a medical emergency earlier this month.

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Santa’s visit in Fairview was cut short due to health reasons. (CBS11)

“It was really hard when we found out that he had passed. We were really heartbroken. We didn’t take a picture with Santa this year because of it. We decided… let’s not do it this year,” said Esther Terry.

Aaron Terry says The Big Guy’s memory will live on for years to come.

“It’s funny… he became part of the family. He’s in our living room, and we’ve got all the kids with him. So we’ll definitely miss him,” said Aaron Terry.