Enduring Loss

They were the first ones on the dance floor, the first in their families to immigrate to the United States, the first to lend a helping hand or words of support. Grandma, Pop Pop, Butterfly, Coach, Tio, Bubbles — more than 550,000 people in all who have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

Their loved ones have been sharing stories over the past year with NPR and NPR member stations. Now, as the U.S. death rate declines and the rising pace of vaccinations offers hope of a post-pandemic life, we continue to remember those we’ve lost.

This remembrance project features over 225 of their stories — poignant tales of big hearts, irreverent streaks, dad jokes and bingo, of richly diverse lives lived in every corner of the country.



Carroll White, 100
Ottumwa, Iowa
I mean, I think about him every day, and he’s an example to me. So I just try to live up to, you know, his standards. And I know I never will.” — Son
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Mike Farley, 87
Denver, Colo.
He said he felt like his life was complete, but he just wasn’t ready to hand it over yet. — Daughter
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Charles (husband), Lois (wife), and Chanda (daughter) Bullock, 80, 80 and 60
Rockland County, N.Y.
In 1968, [Charles] became the first African American fireman there in central Nyack station. And 10 years after that, he was named the chief in that area. … [Lois] worked for the school district. … She had an amazing smile and really enjoyed learning. … Chanda was the best of them wrapped up in one. She had her mom’s smile and her dad’s personality and was always out and enjoying life, laughing loud. — Pastor and friend
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Rose Liberto, 64
Charlotte, N.C.
She’s a fierce warrior. She saved lives and I feel certain she sacrificed herself to save lives in this truly awful pandemic. — Daughter
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Sister Georgianna Glose, 73
New York City, N.Y.
She was a reverent woman with a hilariously irreverent streak. I loved that about her. — Friend
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Dorothy "Pearl" Davis, 60
San Antonio, Texas
When I had to tell her goodbye, I felt a piece of me go with her. That was my favorite aunt. Every time I seen her, we danced together. That was something that she always did. I saw her right before she got sick. And we danced in my parents’ front yard. So I tell her, when I see you again, we will have a dance again. — Niece
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Harry William "Hecky" Powell, 71
Evanston, Ill.
… [T]he Sunday following his death, somewhere in the area of about 200 cars drove down my block releasing balloons, showing signs, tossing flowers, giving cards. And I’m sitting there just waving to people … thinking, you know, Hecky would have loved this. — Wife
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William Helmreich, 74
Great Neck, N.Y.
He loved New York, he loved people, and the people of New York loved him. — Journalist
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Dez-Ann Romain, 36
New York, N.Y.
Understand that you are great in your own right, and don’t let anybody ever make you feel less than. — Self
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Oliver Stokes Jr., 44
New Orleans, La.
Stokes’ life centered around his four kids, who adored him. They had movie nights, vacations, trips to the park. — NPR
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Otis Knapp Lee, 72
Detroit, Mich.
Lee opened Mr. Fofo’s deli in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood in the early 1970s when he was 25. … Lee’s specialties included huge sheet cakes, macaroni and cheese, and a sweet potato pie his grandmother taught him to make. But he was most famous for heaping corned-beef sandwiches. — NPR
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Marlowe Stoudamire, 43
Detroit, Mich.
Marlowe Stoudamire, who was really a strong community leader here in Detroit, had helped to lead a two-year effort to remember the 1967 civil unrest. And Marlowe hadn’t even been born at the time, but he knew it was important for the city to understand what happened and build bridges and find ways to make sure that it never happened again. — Journalist
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Leilani Jordan, 27
Largo, Md.
I know she’s in heaven, and she’s there welcoming everybody. — Mother
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Araceli Buendia Ilagan, 63
Miami, Fla.
She was one of those hands-on assistant nurse managers who would not let you work by yourself. She was probably going in and out of every single room in that 20-bed ICU every day despite the risk of COVID. — Colleague
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Idella Alban, 97
Quincy, Mass.
Alban’s family described her as loyal, loving, selfless. She adored her grandchildren. She loved holiday gatherings, card games and bingo. — NPR
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Catherine Eisenmann, 90
Boston, Mass.
Eisenmann had a lot of hobbies — gardening, decoupage, lampshade-making and baking. She loved taking her grandchildren bird-watching, blueberry-picking and ice skating. — NPR
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William Olenik, 94
Boston, Mass.
He worked at Schrafft’s candy factory for many years. An avid Boston sports fan, he also enjoyed playing cards with friends and, on occasion, trying his luck at the Foxwoods casino. — NPR
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Tom Wilson, 73
Detroit, Mich.
… I think Tom of all people would be counseling right now against despair. He’d be talking about how we could persevere, how we can beat this virus and reclaim our lives. There’s not just irony in that. There’s strength and hope. — Host of Detroit Today
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Barbara Hopper, 81
Oakland, Calif.
I miss her smile, her ability to tell an amazing story and to take you right there in it where you can smell the smells that she’s describing and hear the noises. I miss her belief in the best of people. — Daughter
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Nashom Wooden, 50
New York, N.Y.
I think my fondest memory of Nashom was stopping by his work one night and telling him about the mural at Club Cumming, featuring me and Nashom as his alter ego Mona Foot. He remarked that the mural made him feel like he’d made it. — Friend
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Nathel Burtley, 79
Flint, Mich.
Needless to say, you know, having an individual who looked like me, you know, an African American individual who understood the nuances that the kids and families in our community faced, it was really encouraging. — Former student
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Paula Pryce-Bremmer, 51
New York, N.Y.
She wasn’t just concerned about me getting good grades. She was concerned about me being a good human being in life for now and when I graduated. — Former student
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Michael Westbrook, 54
Sour Lake, Texas
There was no reason not to love Mr. Westbrook, I guess. Yeah, he was hard on us from time to time, but that’s just what teachers do to make you get better. — Student
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Ron Hill, 63
Fulton County, Ga.
Hearing about Coach Hill’s passing felt just not real. It’s a huge loss for the community. He was someone that everyone knew and loved. Even if you didn’t play for him, you knew him. I really don’t think there is anyone he met that didn’t love him. — Former player
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Alby Kass, 89
Hayward, Calif.
His sense of joy was so honest, pure and powerful that it reminds me of the joy a young child feels when they are truly happy. — Friend
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Kimarlee Nguyen, 33
Brooklyn, N.Y.
She was like, “OK, like, if you need to talk to me, I’m here. I just want to make sure you’re good.” … It was a small act, but, like, no one really did that in the school. — Former student
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Bobby Pin, 50
Maui, Hawaii
I certainly have a more optimistic view of the world and I’m less afraid to try new things, all because Bobby was in my life. — Partner
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Teruyuki Okazaki, 88
Philadelphia, Pa.
Okazaki was an influential figure in the martial arts world based in Philadelphia. — NPR
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Mary Joan Todd, 87
Dearborn, Mich.
When I moved to New Mexico originally in 2015, you know, our conversations on the phone really helped me, you know, get over moving and kind of some of the jitters and some of the nervousness that came with moving away from home. — Grandson
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Israel Tolentino, 33
Passaic, N.J.
You know, there was nothing too small for him or too insignificant. If it could make someone’s day better or … ease a little bit of their load, then he was there, you know, to help in whatever he can. — Wife
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Bob Carlos, 75
Central Florida
He definitely was one of the people that you would say had the dad jokes. — Daughter
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Jerry Givens, 67
Henrico, Va.
Givens served as Virginia’s chief executioner for 17 years. In 1999, he found himself in prison for money laundering (he always maintained his innocence). In prison, he turned toward religion. And upon his release, he became a prominent opponent of the death penalty. — NPR
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Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, 91
Washington, D.C.
Jerman started working at the White House when Dwight Eisenhower was president. When he retired, Barack Obama was in the Oval Office. — NPR
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Dr. Alyce Gullatte, 91
Washington, D.C.
My mom, I could view her as everybody’s grandmother. She was also known for making sure people were treated right and had the best of care going to Howard [University] Hospital. — Daughter
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Orlando McDaniel, 59
Dallas, Texas
Track has always been his heart. And he started the Cheetahs [Track Club] to give back in a way that he knew how to and to bring in girls of all ages so that they had discipline and direction and guidance to succeed in life. — Daughter
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Brian Miller, 52
Alexandria, Va.
Miller devoted his career to helping students with disabilities, and it was a mission driven by his own experience. — NPR
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Teddy Nelson, 25
Logan , W. Va.
Anybody that come in contact with him is better for knowing him. Just can’t wait to see him when I get to heaven. That’d be a good day to see him again. — Former coach
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Art Whistler, 75
Oahu, Hawaii
Before he died, Whistler was finishing his life’s work, a book called The Flora of Samoa. He worried many Samoan species might soon go extinct, a threat he talked about in the 2011 documentary Vanishing Knowledge. — NPR
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Robbin Hardy, 56
Baton Rouge, La.
She will always have a place in my heart. And if I had to search all over again, if I had to choose a woman to be my bride again, I would search for her. — Husband
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Marylou Armer, 43
American Canyon, Calif.
She was a very caring person, but she - you know, she had tough love. If she knew she had to say something, she’ll tell you whether you agreed with it or not. — Sister
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Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz, 70
Huntsville, Texas
I mean, I never told him how proud I was of him, and I think about that. You know, of course, I told him, you know, that I love him and that kind of thing. But after he passed, I really started to hear about the impact he had on others. — Son
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Saul Sanchez, 78
Greeley, Colo.
I don’t know what pain is worse – my sister Patty to have sat there and watched them take him off the ventilator and watched him take his last breath or for us that we weren’t able to be there and hold his hand and tell him how much we loved him. — Daughter
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Kai Wong Sam, 85
Evanston, Ill.
To this day, I still miss him. I wish he was just walking around and talking about jokes and, you know, giving me some advice. — Wife
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Mary J. Wilson, 83
Baltimore, Md.
When I got into the zoo field, it was very male-dominated. Mary just absolutely blew me away. Like, she was the best supervisor I’d ever seen, most skilled animal handler and trainer I’d ever seen. In my mind, she really just flipped all the gender roles on their head. — Former colleague
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Winifred Fredericks, 92
New York, N.Y.
She was forceful in a quiet way, if you can understand what I mean. She never had any bad thing to say about anybody, but she had an opinion. — Daughter
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Edna Raper, 67
Kenwood, Okla.
She babysat both of my little girls, so any time it was naptime or bedtime, she was just - she’d started singing in Cherokee. And that’s how she’d put them to sleep. — Daughter
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Robert Eades, 63
Annapolis, Md.
He made it a point to go to City Council meetings and raise issues, whether it was on housing, police brutality, any injustice that he thought that needed to be brought to the attention of the City Council. — Friend
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Pamela Rush, 49
Selma, Ala.
She was kind of the Fannie Lou Hamer of this whole movement around helping people to understand poverty and understand that it’s not because of personal failings; it’s because of traps or systems that we put in place to make it impossible for someone to escape it. — Cousin
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Wesley Fire Cloud Jr., 38
Big Bend, S.D.
All we have is each other. … This virus is real, and it took a lot from us. — Mother
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Cheryl Morrow, 53
Blytheville , Ark.
She always told me all my life growing up that she wanted to be a nurse, and she’s only – my mom [had] only been an LPN for five years, so she got her nursing license when she was in her 40s. — Daughter
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Fred Dean, 68
Monroe, La.
One of the first times I met Fred, he’s laying on a bench in our weight room, smoking a cigarette. And I looked down, and I said, “Fred, what are you doing, man?” He says, “Well, I was thinking about lifting weights, but I thought I might lie here till I got over it.” — Former NFL teammate
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Elisa Hinojosa, 54
San Antonio, Texas
[Twenty-six] years of marriage – COVID took her away from me in five weeks – five weeks. It’s not supposed to happen. — Husband
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Bert Porter and Tracy Larsen, 80 and 56, respectively
Logan, Utah
My mom was the life of the party. She was bouncy and energetic and loving. … My grandpa was such a sweet, sweet man. He was the hardest worker of anyone I’ve ever met. Up until the day he was put in the hospital, he was outside building new things or welding something. — Daughter and granddaughter
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Jim Herber, 74
Sheboygan, Wis.
You know, he would come home from a full day of work and just be ready to, like, hang out with us. Whenever we were spending time with him, he made you feel like you were the center of his entire universe. —  Daughter
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Elizabeth Yamada, 90
San Diego, Calif.
My mom — she would be the one to take us to museums, you know, get us into art classes. She provided the enrichment side of our lives. — Son
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Jamesha Waddell, 23
Elizabethtown, N.C.
I call her my rose. I guess God – he looked down in his garden and saw he needed a rose, and he plucked my rose. And there ain’t nothing I can do about it. — Grandmother
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Dr. Mohammad Jawed, 59
Corbin, Ky.
That one time we did get to visit him in the hospital, I all of a sudden had this overwhelming feeling of calmness come over me. It was like he was telling me that everything was going to be OK and that we were going to be OK no matter what happened. — Daughter
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Noe Montoya, 66
Hollister, Calif.
[I]n the months before his death, his focus was on his adult son, Robert, who has been living in a care facility since suffering a stroke last year. Montoya was unable to visit in [COVID-19] time, so he played guitar for Robert daily over FaceTime and sang him his favorite songs. — NPR
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Rita Martinez, 65
Pueblo, Colo.
She sort of just had a little more courage than a lot of the other folks around her. … And she really paid close attention to folks who were sort of more marginalized – so Spanish-speaking families or Chicano families. — Friend and fellow activist
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John Wilkins, 76
Memphis, Tenn.
Us three girls are going to do our best to keep singing, going to always try to keep his music alive, keep it going ‘cause that’s what he would want. — Daughter
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Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun, 76
Philadelphia, Pa.
She always teach us, you know, it doesn’t matter, you know, where you go or who you become, but always remember your traditional – your old culture. — Son
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Edward R. Shaw, 98
Bloomington, Ind.
Having served in World War II, he was part of the U.S. Army’s 89th Infantry Division, one of the first regiments to liberate a Nazi concentration camp. — NPR
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Rosemary Kraemer, 74
Milwaukee, Wis.
She loved children so much, and they were drawn to her. I can’t tell you how many kids have called her Grandma that aren’t her own. — Daughter
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Herman Floyd Thompson, 84
Talkeetna, Alaska
Herman had a love of knowledge. In 1989, after serving 31 years in the USAF, he went back to school and received his bachelor’s degree in occupational education. — KTNA
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Trefon Angasan Jr., 73
Anchorage, Alaska
Really, probably, the smartest man I’ve ever met in my life. Just an incredible resource with regards to Alaska Native policy history, the history of our region, and was also an incredible businessman. — Son
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Mike Minista, 66
Manokotak, Alaska
He was one of those guys you couldn’t help but like – he did not have an enemy. I think everybody is going to miss him because he was always laughing and always enjoying himself, so he was always a fun-loving and happy-go-lucky person. — Friend
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Andrew "Andy" Isola, 77
Port Matilda, Pa.
My son named him Pop Pop and the other grandkids followed in line and he was called Pop Pop, and he loved it. He was a great Pop Pop. — Son
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Richard "Dick" Holter Sr., 92
Frederick, Md.
The last few weeks, day after day, it’s been so easy to get lost in the numbers – the confirmed cases, the ventilator count, the deaths. … The thing is, today … these numbers? Every one is one. Every one is a Dick Holter. — Son
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William Hershell Moon Sr., 74
Springville, Alabama
That’s my brother. Regardless of what he done, I love him. God loves us. He forgives us for all our sins. — Sister
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Eric Madrid, 50
Los Angeles, Calif.
He was like a ball of sun. He could walk into any room and everyone would be laughing. You could be having the worst day, you see him smile, and everything’s better. — Daughter
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Kuei Ching Chen, 70
Los Angeles, Calif.
It takes a lot of strength and bravery to venture to another country where you just don’t speak the language and aren’t accustomed to the food — to pursue opportunity and a better life for your children. — Daughter
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Sheri Walker, 69
California
She had purple hair, [and was] just very, very fun. … [She had] that free spirit, love, [and] peacefulness that was so indicative of the late ‘60s, early ‘70s era. — Daughter
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Leo Fabian, 31
Los Angeles, Calif.
It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say he went to sleep and never woke up. — Wife
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Gene Gallegos, 80
Anaheim, Calif.
He was a stickler and was always put together. He was always very fastidious. He was the tough guy. We had a difficult relationship, but we loved each other. — Daughter
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Jim Fisher, 93
Soldotna, Alaska
If my dad ran the world, everybody would have a place to sleep and food to eat. — Daughter
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George Nelson Jr., 80
Angoon, Alaska
When I needed help with my Tlingit, he was my Tlingit teacher. I asked him about phrases and what’s the right way to say things. And then when he’d be talking to me too, he’d say things in Tlingit, and he’d say, “Say it, say it too.” — Friend
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Fred Bischoff, 79
Montgomery, Ala.
There’s a running joke in our extended family that if Fred’s gonna [repair] it, it’s going to be right. — Daughter
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Charlie Secrest, 82
Claymont, Del.
He volunteered to be our chaperone, and put on roller skates and roller-skated with a bunch of 12-year-old girls. He was the only father that came. It was all the moms – and my dad. And I thought I was the coolest Girl Scout there, like “I got my dad.” — Daughter
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Hugh Frick, 84
Newark, Del.
He wasn’t stuck on himself. He was assured of his own intelligence and worth, but he wasn’t pompous about it. And he had a way with the people he liked of building up their own confidence. — Best friend
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Wayne Craven, 89
Newark, Del.
He was always elegant, always kind and always had his door open. — Former student and colleague
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Shirley Trostle, 94
Wilmington, Del.
She was the type of person that if she got on a bus with a bunch of strangers, by the time they got to their destination, everyone knew my mom. — Son
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Sam McKinney, 72
Kane, Pa.
Sam was great. Yeah, my mom got remarried when I was about 7 and they’ve been married almost, a little over 40 years. Going on 41 years. And, uh, you know they were great. They loved to get out. They loved to go for walks. — Stepson
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Elizabeth Shook, 93
Keene, N.H.
Anywhere she lived, she was always involved with her community. — Son
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Wanda M. Hough, 70
Meredith, N.H.
My mother was the nicest person I ever knew. She loved horror movies, antiques and her beloved dog, Lillie. — Daughter
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Rachel Eskie, 41
Worcester, Mass.
She has always been a fighter and had a very strong spirit. — Sister
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Joanne Dugas, 92
Concord, N.H.
She wove together a life of caring for others, hard work, and good fun. — Daughter
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Granville “Lou” Metcalf, 88
Baltimore, Md.
You taught me patience, honor, trustworthiness and some great four-letter words. I’ll miss your love and humor. — Son
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José Antonio Reyes, 84
Miami, Fla.
He was a firm believer that where two people can eat, a third person can join, you know. Donde comen dos, tres pueden comer. — Son
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Shadel Hamilton, 62
Miami Gardens, Fla.
He was the parent that literally would let us shoot water guns in the house and then say, “Hurry up and clean it before your mom gets home.” — Daughter
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Michael Anderson, 64
Chamberlain, S.D.
He built this community around him through his love of his craft. I think it really speaks to who he was that so many folks really felt his loss. — Friend
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Mohamed Omer, 74
Minneapolis, Minn.
A civil war [in Somalia] scattered Mohamed Omer’s family more than 30 years ago. He spent his life trying to unscatter them. — MPR News
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Annie Glenn, 100
Arden Hills, Minn.
… a strong voice for children, speech and communications, and the disabled. — Former Defense Secretary William Cohen
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Steven Anderson, 65
Mille Lacs County, Minn.
He had the ability to see in people possibilities that maybe others didn’t. — Friend
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Patsy Moore, 79
Weston, Fla.
She loved libraries and she would always make sure that you had a library card, and when my children brought friends home from school, that’s what she would ask them: “Do you have your library card? You need a library card.” — Daughter
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Belarmina Martinez, 66
Reno, Nev.
She took the responsibility of organizing the holiday parties. — Brother
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Kelly Rindlisbacher, 61
Cache County, Utah
When the students met their schoolwide goal, he dressed up like a princess and kissed a pig in front of the whole school. He loved it. He was a kid at heart. — Wife
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Chad Allen Frank, 30
Eugene, Ore.
Frank loved gardening, fishing and camping. He had a goofy sense of humor and was fun to be around. — KLCC
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Jerry and Rosie Morrow, 63 and 81
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I’m glad that they’re together, that they went together, but we didn’t want to see … either one of them go. — Granddaughter
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Sharon Widener, 80
Cheyenne, Wyo.
One of her other favorite movies was Brokeback Mountain. And she loved it for the scenery, for the music, for the story. But most of all she loved it because every time she watched it, she hoped it would end happy. Every time she knew it wouldn’t, but she still had that optimistic, everything’s-gonna-be-fine, everything’s-gonna-be-better-than-fine mindset. — Daughter
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Wallace Roney, 59
Paterson, N.J.
Roney first rose to prominence as a sharp young steward of the modern jazz tradition, winning national awards in his early 20s and joining several high-profile bands. — NPR
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William E. Christofferson, 93
Cache Valley, Utah
There has not been a piece of veterans legislation in the state of Utah the last 50 years that Bill Christofferson was not a part of. — Friend
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Steven Farmer, 67
Jonesboro, Ark.
Dad’s soul is singing today even though ours aren’t. But, grief is the price you pay for being blessed enough to experience the kind of love that dad gave and lived through his actions everyday. — Daughter
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Salman Wasti, 76
Chepachet , R.I.
I would definitely describe my father as a homebody. I used say that even if somebody gave dad a fully paid trip to anywhere he wanted to go, he would rather stay home. — Daughter
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Steven T. Richard, 58
Lynnfield, Mass.
… [H]e was a very sensitive, gentle soul. People would confess their deepest, darkest secrets to him, because he was just that kind of guy who would hold it in his heart. — Wife
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Jody Jenkins, 57
Atkins, Ark.
He loved the community, he loved his school, and he adored all of the students. — Atkins, Ark., School District
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Barbara Gill, 83
Monterey, Tenn.
I had them go take the phone and put it up to her ear, because they say the hearing is last to go. So one at a time, we talked to her and told her we loved her. — Sister
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Bennie Adkins, 86
Opelika, Ala.
In a battle and daring escape that lasted four days, Bennie performed so many acts of bravery, we actually don’t have time to talk about all of them. — Barack Obama
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Helen Jones Woods, 96
Sarasota, Fla.
Music broke her heart. In the ‘30s and ‘40s, and even the ‘50s, which was the last time she played [trombone], they wouldn’t get paid regularly. They couldn’t find housing accommodations. — Daughter
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Sione Ray Tuineau, 35
West Valley City, Utah
He was always full of light. Every time he walked in the room, you knew you were gonna have a good time. — Brother
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Marnie Miller Blevins, 49
Garfield County, Utah
She would definitely be the one who was always there to pull the pranks and make jokes and give funny gifts – some you could talk about, some you couldn’t talk about. — Friend
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Courtney Isaiah Smith, 37
Salt Lake City, Utah
He created a song for the situation with George Floyd because that hit him really hard. Courtney was an activist, and he was very open about political, social and economical situations. — Partner and bandmate
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Dolores Horta, 75
Layton, Utah
We had the Hells Angels that lived down the street and she … talked to them about the Bible. They were more on the mean side to begin with. But, you know, she didn’t care. — Son
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Madaleine Whitehouse, 96
Madbury, N.H.
She was a dancer as a child and she took lessons later in life for exercise. She even danced at her 90th birthday party to the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame:” She loved the Red Sox. — Daughter
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Nancy MacDonald, 74
East Providence, R.I.
I miss her laugh. I miss her smile. A hug from her would be amazing. It’s all the little things that I never thought to ever think of. — Daughter
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Bliss Michelson, 71
Trenton, N.J.
Bliss loved animals. He would often have to leave the station immediately after one of his radio shows to feed a flock of sheep that he tended in the country. He talked often of his cat, Janet. — Friend and colleague
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Alan Abel, 91
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
He worked with legends and became one himself. — WRTI
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Jennifer Crawford, 53
West Des Moines, Iowa
Jennifer took all precautions at school recommended by the Governor and still contracted and died from this disease. — Family
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Carlos DeLeon, 63
Bridgeport, Conn.
I just want people to know that it wasn’t OK for him to die that way. — Daughter
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Jerry Relph, 76
St. Cloud, Minn.
Jerry dedicated his life to service, and representing Senate District 14 was one of the highest honors he had. — Wife
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Rogelio Fernández Sr., 74
American Falls, Idaho
I would run up to him and he would pick me up and he’d sit me down in the little chair that he had made for me. And I would sit there with him until I fell asleep. — Daughter
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Ken Roberts, 66
Tonasket, Wash.
We sort of talk to him among ourselves. We say, “Sorry, Ken, we’re so sorry you had to go this way.” — Stepsister
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Derick Coley, 29
Magnolia, Ark.
My older brother was my best friend, my everything. With him being incarcerated, he still helped me out a lot. When I need to talk, when I need to cry, he was there. — Sister
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Marner Saw, 50
Twin Cities, Minn.
We were still hoping that he would eventually come home. It’s a big loss for the family and for the community. — Friend
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Dr. Richard Salk, 95
Albany, Minn.
Many of the people who cared for him in his final days were people he once served as a small-town doctor. — MPR News
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Tou-Fu Vang, 76
Woodbury, Minn.
He spent much of his career in the States with the refugee resettlement program, so a lot of people remember him for that — Son
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Marny Xiong, 31
St. Paul, Minn.
We prepared a celebration for her return and waited, and waited but she never came home. We prayed and prayed for a miracle but none was granted. — Family
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Craig Breimhorst, 71
Faribault, Minn.
You could not walk in that town without people greeting him. Every single person in town pretty much knew who he was — and everybody respected him. — Son
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Conrad Razidlo, 85
Edina, Minn.
[He] just never took a moment for granted, and always was helping other people, because he knew what it was like to not have things, and need help. — Son
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Leonard Novak, 91
New Hope, Minn.
He was the bingo man at the nursing home and he took that job very seriously. — Son
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Bob McDonald, 87
Chisholm, Minn.
I admired every aspect of his career. I respected his lifestyle and his values. They were an important example for me and the other coaches as well. — Colleague
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Maury Graham, 71
Pequot Lakes, Minn.
I know he would be honored and also a little self-flattered to see the amazing crowd that he can gather. Up until the day he died, he had a power like nobody else to do that. — Son
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Giuseppi Logan, 84
Queens, N.Y.
I learned a lot about the humanity in music from Ornette Coleman. But Giuseppi to me was the ultimate example of that. His music was all about really how he felt, who he was, and how vulnerable he was. — Musical partner
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Henry Grimes, 84
New York, N.Y.
Known both for his versatility and the stout fullness of his sound, he began to make a mark in the mid-to-late 1950s, on albums by saxophonists Lee Konitz … Gerry Mulligan and Sonny Rollins. — WBGO
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Bootsie Barnes, 82
Wynnewood, Pa.
He was one of the pillars of the Philly jazz scene. I would say one of the top five most influential musicians in the whole city. — Bassist Christian McBride
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Blackfeet Nation Tribal Members,
Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Mont.
The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council held a memorial in November for tribal members who had died of COVID-19. The disease has hit Native Americans in Montana particularly hard. — Yellowstone Public Radio
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Audrey Ellis, 29
Denver, Colo.
The last day and the last night that we spent together was our 29th birthday. We had cake. We always liked to blow out our candles together and make a wish, so that was what we did. — Twin sister
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Charley Pride, 86
Dallas, Texas
While Mr. Pride was a legendary performer who entertained millions of fans in the United States and around the world, we will remember him as a true friend to this [Texas Rangers] franchise. — Texas Rangers
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John Nelson Brown II, 73
Riverton, Wyo.
My dad was funny. He was stern. He taught us all about the realities of life, learning lessons in life. He was a good dad. He was a great dad. I am the person I am today because of him. — Daughter
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Renee Fletcher, 87
Lee’s Summit, Mo.
… [O]ne of Fletcher’s favorite places to go was Harbor Freight Tools, a discount hardware store. … She had drawers full of this stuff — measuring tapes, keychain flashlights, scissors, miniature levels. Every year she used them to fill stockings. — KCUR
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Iola Mae Herviey, 93
Kansas City, Kan.
I had no idea what domestic work was until I was almost grown. When I found out what she was doing, it humbled me so much as a person to find out what my mother was doing to put clothes on our backs, to put food on the table. To provide the right thing and the right way. — Son
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Mildred Stopa, 96
Chicopee, Mass.
Oh my God, she loved the color blue. Everything was blue. It used to amaze me, you know, if she had a choice of buying something, it could be even something for the kitchen, or a plastic spoon — if she had a choice of every color in the rainbow, it would be blue! — Daughter
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Mary Crimmins, 57
Longmeadow, Mass.
She knew that she was a little different. She knew she had Down syndrome. But she never let that stand in the way. … She is the only person I know who was just excited to have another birthday and turn another year older. … It was the biggest holiday of the year for her. She just loved it. — Sister
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Mauricio Valdivia, 52
Chicago, Ill.
There’s always that one person that goes out of their way to say that they love you and they’re proud of you. And in our family, that was Mauri. — Brother
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Lee Konitz, 92
New York, N.Y.
He was a lifelong searcher. He was really remarkable in the way that he always sought out the spontaneous urge. — NPR
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Florinda Flores, 85
Roswell, N.M.
You always knew when you were going to go to her house that you were going to have her famous enchiladas. And for me because, you know, I was a little special, she would make me my own little pumpkin pie. — Grandson
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Dana Vega, 49
Clarksville, Tenn.
She did little things to make people smile. Crocheting was one of her hobbies. And she would make blankets for everyone. You know, if a new baby was going to come into the world, she would make a baby blanket. — Daughter
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Shawna Snyder, 41
Tucson, Ariz.
She [loved] moccasin-making for our people. She started to weave baskets. So those are her biggest things – was, you know, to pass on traditional things from our people to her children, especially our daughter. — Husband
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Rene Chavez, 45
El Paso, Texas
If I got mad at him, he would sit there and joke around with me. He’s like, “See” – he goes, “I made you laugh; I’m off the hook.” — Wife
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Patricia Edwards, 62
Greenville, S.C.
I was at the hospital while she was there towards the end. And it was one day, the outside of her room was just filled with so many people from that hospital and from other hospitals, the people that she worked with who just came to see her and pray for her and just to let us know that she meant so much to them. — Daughter
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Whitney Moore Taylor, 31
Hobbs, N.M.
She loved working with the kids. … She wanted to make sure that the children had Thanksgiving dinner. You know, she’d have it in her class, their little Thanksgiving party. … This is the kind of person my baby was – the caring soul that she had, you know? Just a loving person. — Mom
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Charles Henry Krebbs, 75
Phoenix, Ariz.
He was a hands-on dad. When I was in high school, he would take me shopping for all of my formal wear dresses because he loved fashion. And he loved dressing up himself, so he’d let me go to 10 stores and try on a hundred dresses until I found the one that was just perfect. — Daughter
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Erlin Galarza, 66
New York, N.Y.
He would tell me what time he was going to come [home], and I’d get to greet him at the door every afternoon or every night. Sometimes I forget, and I think he’s coming. — Wife
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Gaby O'Donnell, 61
Long Beach, Calif.
My mom was not just an amazing woman, but she was my best friend and lived such a great and joyous life. — Son
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Bruce Williamson Jr., 49
Las Vegas, Nev.
He would always call me Papi. “Hey, Papi, what you doing?” He called me a few weeks before he made his transition. “Papi, I’m just calling to see how you do,” you know, so he was forever always jovial and a great spirit. — Band member
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Dr. José Gabriel López-Plascencia, 99
Phoenix, Ariz.
People knew where they could go for help, and that was Dr. López. [His waiting room] was wall-to-wall — no room — and people out in the hallway waiting. And they were mostly undocumented, or farmworkers, or just the poor people from the surrounding areas. — Former patient
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Alicia Ugartechea, 67
Hot Springs, Ark.
It hurt because she had to be alone [in the hospital] the whole time. We’re a really close family, so it’s hard not having her here. — Daughter
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Paulino Ramos, 53
Los Angeles, Calif.
He was a loving father, a loving husband, and he always tried to provide for his family. That’s the reason he came [to the U.S.], to be able to provide a better opportunity for his kids. — Friend
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Ronald Lewis, 68
New Orleans, La.
You know, Ronald was one of those once-in-a-lifetime friends that you hope you get to meet, someone that uses a lot of wisdom, stark honesty and then, you know, how to lend a helping hand. He showed by example. He might call you up and run something by you, see what you think. He might just call and say, “Hey, man, I’m just thinking about you. How you doing?” — Friend
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Isaac Robinson, 44
Detroit, Mich.
I know he’s looking down, saying, “What the heck? Let me back in the game. Let me back in the game, God.” … He had this way of making people feel special. And I think that’s really what’s missing today is that love. …” — Friend
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Vickey Gibbs, 57
Houston, Texas
Vickey would always be on the lookout for new research, new studies to say how we’re doing, how we are in treating the least, the last and the lost. — Pastor and friend
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Loretta Dionisio, 68
Orlando, Fla.
… [S]he really was like a second mother to me. And, you know, when you’re in your teenage years and fighting with your mom, she was always the one that I could turn to. — Niece
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Drs. Jorge and Carlos Vallejo, 89 and 57, respectively
Hialeah and Weston, Fla.
Father and son were both admitted to the hospital on Father’s Day 2020 and died weeks apart, according to the Vallejo family, which counts more than 20 doctors among them.

I think now my driving force is just to … carry on the tradition of Dr. Vallejo … it’s a name that the patients trust. They know our family would always put patients before our own lives. — Son/grandson
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Paula Einbender, 66
Milwaukee, Wis.
My mom … loved musicals and singing folk music. From family gatherings to long car rides, singing — despite our talents — was a part of it. — Daughter
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Eugene Hurkin, 95
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Though my father was a quiet man, he had a big personality, good nature and a love of humor. — Daughter
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Demetria Bannister, 28
Columbia, S.C.
Something that I’m really gonna truly miss is just playing and singing with her. Just being behind her, watching her take over. And when I say take over, I mean take over. I mean, she was such a star. She was really such a star. — Cousin
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David Smith Sr., 70
Vinton, La.
I think of just how loving and warm my father was. No matter what happened, he would always welcome us home. — Son
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Jim Haefele, 65
Cape Coral, Fla.
Haef changed my life. … Haef believed in me, and as a result, I believed in myself. (He also left the music office window open, so I could climb through it and avoid being technically late to school.) — Student
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Jack Ranney, 80
Champaign, Ill.
I will be forever grateful for the way in which my dad brought music into my life and how music will always be a source of connection to him. — Daughter
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Usha Subrahmanyam, 69
New York, N.Y.
Classically trained in Bharatanatyam in her youth and a naturally gifted dancer in several styles, amma loved to sway to Norah Jones while preparing a delicious meal, enjoyed absorbing the notes and lyrics while lounging in a blanket, or even just feeling the comfort of the songs while digging into the newspaper or a good book. — Daughter
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Susan Owens, 63
Charlotte, N.C.
… [S]he herself had risen up through so many challenges, including her divorce, her brother’s car accident and the many challenges life threw her way. And yet she always stayed so positive. — Son and daughter-in-law
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Sam Corpora, 72
Hearne, Texas
My friend even gave me a necklace with a silver wing on it after he died, so I can always have him close to my heart. — Daughter
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Jason Holland, 47
Ohio
Even though we were different on many different levels, that was the one thing that kind of connected us, is that we were both kind of just pranksters and goofballs. — Friend
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James (Jim) Tomasik, 58
Cordova and Memphis, Tenn.
I used to complain that he listened to the same 10 to 20 songs over and over, but I’d give anything for another morning of him waking me and the others up with his usual playlist and the smell of food in the air. — Son
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Hung Vinh Nguyen, 77
Alexandria, Va.
As the president of the Sai Gon Gia Dinh Association in the Washington, D.C., metro area, he had spent the last few months of his life raising funds to donate face masks and shields to the local community. — Daughter
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Janet Kilty, 74
Islip, N.Y.
Most of us couldn’t say goodbye to her in person, but we all got together on the phone as the nurse at the hospital held the phone up to her so we could say our goodbyes …[W]e were trying to bring her joy, to know that she was loved — and despite the pain, we were a family and we were together. — Son
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Tom Makosky, 66
Carbondale, Pa.
We were always really close, but my daughter and he had the most special bond. From the time she could walk, they’d be in the garage listening to everything from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to Steppenwolf. — Daughter
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Suresh Agrawal, 66
Houston, Texas
Anytime there was a family wedding and this song [Rang Barse] came on, the dance floor would clear, and my dad would be in the middle with a huge smile and his signature uncle dance moves. — Daughter
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Daniel Pazmino, 53
New York, N.Y.
My funny, cool, dimple-faced uncle was the kindest man you’d ever meet. … Tio Daniel was the man who taught me how to drive a stick and never lost patience when I didn’t get the hang of it (I still don’t know how). — Niece
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Paul Kleinheider, 74
Chatham, N.J.
He never forgot “from whence he came” and wanted to leave the world a better place than when he entered. Paul believed education should be available to all children and did much to provide assistance to children in need. — Partner
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Elizabeth Wells, 62
Hazard, Ky.
Hearing the song [“Country Roads”] always makes me think of Elizabeth and her big love. She loved with her whole heart. — Sister
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Robert L'Hussier, 88
Lowell, Mass.
One day, we’ll hold a beautiful celebration of life for my dad. I plan to honor him by playing the song [“What a Wonderful World”]. — Daughter
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Lewis (Lew) Kirsch, 57
Morganville, N.J.
Lew was a passionate listener and lifelong friend and fan of the Grateful Dead. — Stepbrother
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John Prine, 73
Nashville, Tenn.
My best memory of John is the last conversation we had — about six weeks before we lost him. It ended the way every one of our conversations ended: “Love you, Cuz!” — Cousin
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Willie Louise Richardson, 71
Urbana, Ill.
My mother was a piano teacher, a singer, a songwriter and a true worshipper. She loved the Lord and introduced gospel music to so many. — Daughter
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Kris Ann Tamez, 47
Austin, Texas
Kris Ann loved that song [“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin] and always requested I sing it at the top of my lungs. … We would laugh together and try to sing together the ending lines where Janis really wails. — Cousin
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Nick Mourouzis, 83
Greencastle, Ind.
My dad was a college football coach, and he spent the last 23 years of his professional career (1981-2003) at DePauw University, home of the Tigers. His big personality and even bigger heart made him a legend on campus and beyond. — Daughter
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Adelia Enriquez, 68
Baldwin Park, Calif.
My mom just loved music, any kind of music. You know, it has a good beat, she’ll move to it. And she was just such a vibrant person. — Daughter
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Mark Arnold, 53
Neosho, Mo.
Mark was comforted by the [“‘Til the Blue”] song’s message — that family and friends can support each other in times of loss, even when we have no words to take the pain away, by simply being there to listen and cry together in grief. — Fiancée
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Robert Usher, 48
Fayetteville, N.C.
He worked in our local emergency department and was just beginning his last semester of nursing school. At work, he would have one earbud in and would sing and dance in the hallways. — Girlfriend
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David Belanger, 71
San Diego, Calif.
If he was in his truck, the music was on loud. I’m sure the neighbors loved that, as he cruised along occasionally honking his old-timey truck horn. — Daughter
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Margaret Messner, 89
Bellevue, Wash.
She and I were born with the worst singing voices ever. … However with dementia, she fortunately forgot what bad voices we had, so we were both free to sing out loud — and loudly at that. — Daughter
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Edward Byrne, 90
Staten Island, N.Y.
This song [“Over There”] about liberation and sacrifice, helping with a higher cause and world peace, was the very last music my 90-year-old father and I shared on this planet before he died. — Daughter
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Rita Levay, 76
Albany, N.Y.
She was a badass, a fighter. She was not 76 … more like 26! — Niece
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Joseph Karszen, 91
West Sayville, N.Y.
Despite all the hardship, he liked to say keeping a positive outlook helped him get through it all. Part of that was that almost daily ritual of listening to “The Impossible Dream.” — Grandson
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Carolyn Jane Reibold, 86
Springfield, Ohio
My mother loved him [Tony Bennett] and had most of his albums. … I will always be reminded of my mother when I hear Mr. Bennett, and so will my siblings. Always. — Daughter
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Maria Angelica Mares, 61
Sun Valley, Calif.
She was a happy and joyful human being. … She was someone who liked to have company around, and her face would just glow in the presence of others. — Son
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Rita Sekirka, 89
St. Louis, Mo.
You know, she was there for me so much — training to become a teacher, when I got my job, taught me to drive. … I feel proud to have been her grandson. — Grandson
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Michael Sowers, 70
Sunbury, Pa.
Since my dad played guitar, I had to be different and play drums. However, in high school I picked up guitar, and [“Cat’s in the Cradle”] was the first song he taught me. … After his passing in November, I relearned the song and now proudly play and sing it to my 10-year-old son. — Son
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Drema Ellen Slack, 85
Cabin Creek, W.Va.
When I hear “Sunshine on My Shoulders” … I think of my gran and smile, for she was my sunshine with whom I shared countless small joys, and I am grateful we had each one of them. — Granddaughter
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Jimmy Glass, 60
Winter Springs, Fla.
… I think that’s what guided them throughout their whole life … just the love that they had for each other, and the love that my mom still has for my dad. — Daughter
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Frank Nguyen, 40
Aurora, Colo.
He leaves behind his wife, his young son, a big family, countless friends and touched souls. There are too many shattered hearts to count. — Sister
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Jeff Kopet, 74
Spokane, Wash.
I think of running down the hallway to hug my dad after he got home from work. I think of times spent playing on the carpeted living room floor on weekends with my mom and dad. … I miss him so much. — Daughter
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Nina Gloria, 69
Houston, Texas
Because of Nina, pop music was an integral part of our home, and growing up with the music of the ‘60s was an added benefit. — Sister
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Janet Gonzalez, 60s
Santurce, Puerto Rico
I think that we can make a difference one life at a time just as Janet did with the people she helped. — Friend
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H. Lincoln Myers, 88
Erie, Pa.
“I Sing Because I’m Happy” (or alternatively titled “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”) inspired my dad as he went through difficult times in his life. The thought that if God’s eye is on an insignificant sparrow, his eye is surely on each of us as we go through the trials and tribulations of life. — Son
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Michael J. O'Brien, 35
Wolcott, Conn.
Mike was his own kind of guy. He liked to do his own thing. He was always one that would lend an ear to people. — Father
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Annette Doeschner, 72
Valley Stream, N.Y.
She’ll never walk me down the aisle. I’ll never get to dance with her at my wedding. She’ll never meet my kids. — Son
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Everett "Boone" Pike, 90
Louisville, Ky.
To the rest of the world that hasn’t experienced this, I want people to see my dad was not a number. He’s not an abstract concept. He’s not a nobody. This was a man who was a father that had a life [and] was an important human being. — Daughter
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Frances Bazel, 83
Detroit, Mich.
She didn’t deserve it. She didn’t deserve to die alone. — Granddaughter
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Ivan Forbis, 78
Columbus, Ohio
… [H]e loved Kenny Rogers. He loved country and western music. — Sister
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Maurice Ojwang Sr., 55
Bronx, N.Y.
He finished top of his class in Kenya, and he eventually migrated to the United States, where he literally had to start from scratch with nothing and nobody aiding him and basically work his way up through school, got his computer science bachelor’s degree and master’s degree … eventually earned a doctorate. — Son
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Shafqat Khan, 76
Jersey City, N.J.
I think that experience of living close to the edge without health insurance, toiling away six days a week as a general manager in a convenience store in Brooklyn, working 12 hours a day – I think that really inspired my father to help those who might not have had the access to cut through the red tape of bureaucracy. — Daughter
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Iris Meda, 70
Melissa, Texas
My mother was the kind of woman who was always looking to be of service. — Daughter
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Marshall Terry III, 49
Clinton Township, Mich.
We were always each other’s helper and fixer — we fixed everything for each other. — Wife
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Ramash Quasba, 67
Clarksville, Md.
Every COVID case is a little different, but Dad’s decline was very slow and insidious. It was torture for him and then torture for us to see his decline. — Daughter
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Dr. Marvin James Farr, 81
Scott City, Kan.
One of the things I see brought up from people who won’t take this seriously is, “It’s only the really elderly mostly who are dying. It’s only people who were probably going to die anyways.” It mattered how he died. — Son
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Scott Blanks, 34
Whittier, Calif.
Scott really had the ability to leave these imprints on everybody’s lives. Even though he would move on or people would move on, they still remembered him. — Friend
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Jeffrey Baumbach, 57
Lodi, Calif.
I cannot thank him enough for always being there for me. I cannot thank him enough for all that he’s taught me. I cannot thank him enough for showing me how to live life to the fullest. And I cannot thank him enough for teaching me how to love and loving me for me. — Daughter
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Rose Harrison, 60
Hamilton, Ala.
Mother was the absolute definition of self-sacrifice. Pure love, selflessness. She was a natural giver. — Daughter
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Devin Dale Francis, 44
Miami, Fla.
He was smart, liked to crack jokes and was quick-witted. He would put a smile on your face. … Nothing really got to him. — Fiancée
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Yves-Emmanuel Segui, 60
Newark, N.J.
I have so many good memories of growing up in the Ivory Coast with my dad. Going to get ice cream was one of the happiest things. Taking trips through the country with him. I love driving because of that — he taught me how to drive. — Daughter
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Erlin Galarza, 66
New York, N.Y.
He wanted always to help people. That’s one other thing is that if anybody needed help, he would tell them, you know, “I’m here. If you need me, I can help you.” — Wife
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Esequiel "Zeke" Cisneros, 64
Medical Lake, Wash.
He had that confidence, confidence in you, that you didn’t have. — Stepdaughter
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Zlatko Veleski, 53
Glendale, N.Y.
… at anybody’s birthday he is the first one to put cake on their face. — Daughter
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Gianmarco Bertolotti, 42
New York City, N.Y.
My brother was like an explorer in life, you know, and then he explored without restriction. — Sister
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Jose Diaz Ayala, 38
West Palm Beach, Fla.
He was young at heart. The way he talked to you, he just talked to you like you were the same age as him. Like you were, like, equal. — Daughter
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Celia Yap-Banago, 69
Kansas City, Mo.
Celia was a little fireball. Every time she’d come to work, she would always be picking on someone or making us laugh somehow, some way. And we’d love to see her. — Friend and colleague
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Credits

  • Memorial collection by Caroline Kelly, Colette Rosenberg and Ruth Talbot. Editing by Desiree F. Hicks.
  • Design and development by Ruth Talbot, Thomas Wilburn and Alyson Hurt.
  • Series edited by Desiree F. Hicks, with copy editing by Preeti Aroon, Lee Smith and Pam Webster.

Acknowledgments

Additional thanks to Gerry Holmes, Franklyn Cater, Kathy Goldgeier, Audrey Carlsen, Connie Hanzhang Jin and Daniel Wood.

  • Obituaries from NPR and NPR member stations including WLRN News, MPR News, New Hampshire Public Radio, WPSU, WHYY, WBHM, KCAW, KDLL, KCRW, KERA, KDLG, KTNA, Wisconsin Public Radio, New England Public Media, Wyoming Public Media, Yellowstone Public Radio, WBGO, KUAR, Spokane Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio, WRTI, The Public’s Radio, KUER, WPLN, KASU, WBUR, KLCC and Boise State Public Radio.