Day 40. My blog post of several days ago lamented the fact that the pernicious effect of this pandemic is largely being reported by way statics which convey the enormity of the Corona virus’ deadly march through country after country at the cost of losing site of the individuals, the real people, who make up these unfortunate statics.
The Washington Post published today an article which focuses on personal human tragedies and losses. I commend it to your attention.
Faces of the dead
This is how they lived — and what was lost when they died.
APRIL 24, 2020 On my list
No infectious disease in a century has exacted as swift and merciless a toll on the United States as covid-19. With no vaccine and no cure, the pandemic has killed people in every state. The necessary isolation it imposes has robbed the bereaved of proper goodbyes and the comfort of mourning rituals. Those remembered in this continually updating series represent but some of the tens of thousands who have died. Some were well-known, and many were unsung. All added their stories, from all walks of life, to the diversity of the American experience.
“If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that his story can be shared.”
Nathel Burtley, 79, was the first black superintendent of Flint, Mich. Family and friends said Burtley was determined to improve the experience of minority students, using the lessons he learned while growing up in a segregated Illinois city to fuel his work in Michigan.
Read more about him(Mari Lau)
Marylou Armer, 43, a detective for the Santa Rosa Police Department’s sexual assault and domestic violence unit, was the first California police officer killed by covid-19. She fell ill after being on the job and was denied a test three times, her sister said, inspiring a movement to protect and screen first responders.
Read more about her(Oscar Lam)
“Whoever you needed, Bob knew at least two of them.”
Bob Barnum, 64, was a descendant of circus founder P.T. Barnum, an early LGBTQ activist in Florida and a friend of one of the stars of the 1980s sitcom “The Golden Girls.” He pushed businesses in St. Petersburg, Fla., to broaden their nondiscrimination policies and ensured that the local domestic violence center was knowledgeable about LGBTQ couples.
Read more about him(Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
Jerry Givens, 67, led the country’s second-busiest execution team for 17 years, presiding over 62 executions, before becoming a prominent opponent of the death penalty. He organized protests, testified before lawmakers and met with incarcerated people, corrections officers and the families of victims.
Read more about him(Louisiana governor’s office)
“To put it simply, she’s the most determined person I’ve ever met.”
April Dunn, 33, center, was an outspoken disability rights advocate in Louisiana state government. Denied a high school diploma and shut out of jobs because of her disabilities, she helped rewrite state law to make sure people like her had equal access to education and employment.
Read more about her(Family photo)
Bishop James N. Flowers Jr., 84, was a pastor in Maryland known to be unwavering in his faith. Decades before he experienced a religious epiphany, he was an up-and-coming rock-and-roll singer who enjoyed the D.C. nightlife, and, in 1961, defied society by entering into an interracial marriage that lasted a lifetime.
Read more about him(Family photo)
“After living through that hell, she was blessed with the gift of authenticity.”
Margit Buchhalter Feldman, 90, was a Holocaust survivor who dedicated her life to teaching children about the atrocities that killed around 6 million Jews. She died one day before the 75th anniversary of her liberation from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Read more about her(Family photo)
Brian R. Miller, 52, built a career in the Education Department’s Rehabilitation Services Administration after a lifetime of battling for the rights of those living with disabilities. Born with defective retinas, Miller was among the first wave of blind students to sit in classrooms alongside the sighted in the 1970s and 80s. He sang a cappella, was fluent in four languages and vowed to set foot in 100 countries.
Read more about him(Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Wallace Roney, 59, was a Grammy-winning virtuoso of jazz trumpet who was mentored by Miles Davis. He performed with Davis during one of the jazz legend’s final performances.
Read more about him(Angelo Filomeno)
“Everything in Jen’s world had glitter on it. Everything had a little flair.”
Jennifer Arnold, 67, was a longtime costume dresser on Broadway for “Phantom of the Opera” and a “New Yorker through and through,” her friends and family said. She lived her life immersed in creativity, spending her childhood summers in an artist’s colony in Woodstock, dancing her way around the world in her 20s and showcasing her late father’s paintings throughout New York City. She worked the final performance of “Phantom” before Broadway went dark — and fell ill days later.
Read more about her(Family photo)
Keith Redding, 59, made friends wherever he went; even the nurses who treated him in his final days at the hospital were charmed by his easy smile and good-natured humor. Keith wore a suit every day to his job as a project manager for an FBI contractor, but he was most at home in biker boots and jeans, playing with his grandchildren or riding his motorcycle. After his death, Keith’s wife allowed doctors to share a rare 3-D image of his lungs in hope that it might aid in the fight against the disease.
Read more about him(Debra Vasalech Lyons)
“I don’t think he was ever going to be anything but someone who helped people.”
Frank Gabrin, 60, right, became the first emergency room physician in the United States to die of the virus after he treated patients in hard-hit areas in New York and New Jersey. Known for his buoyant Type A personality, he cooked lasagna dinners for his colleagues and wrote two books to help other health-care workers find purpose in their jobs.
Dez-Ann Romain, 36, was the principal at a Brooklyn high school for students who struggled and fell behind elsewhere. She pushed disadvantaged young people to succeed, building a reputation for “tough love” and sharing her own story of growing up as an immigrant in New York City.
Read more about her(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)
“He is a truly original writer, unequaled, and a genuine poet of the American people.”
John Prine, 73, was a raspy-voiced heartland troubadour who wrote and performed songs about faded hopes, failing marriages, flies in the kitchen and the desperation of people just getting by. He was, as one of his songs put it, the bard of “broken hearts and dirty windows.”
Patricia Frieson, 61, left, and Wanda Bailey, 63, were sisters whose lives centered on their large but close-knit family and their deep faith in God. The family was shaken when Patricia became the first patient in Illinois to die of the coronavirus and was further devastated when Wanda died days later.
Read more about them(Steve Lehto)
Larry Rathgeb, 90, was in charge of engineering racecars for Chrysler during the heyday of stock car racing. His team famously broke a world record for closed course racing. Two days before the 50th anniversary of that automotive achievement, on March 22, Rathgeb died after contracting the coronavirus in his West Bloomfield, Mich., senior living community.
Read more about him(Zenobia Shepherd)
“She said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work because no one else is going to help the senior citizens get their groceries.’ ”
Leilani Jordan, 27, was a Giant grocery store employee with an overpowering desire to help others. Nicknamed “Butterfly,” she kept going to work despite the risks, and her mother held her as she died.
Read more about her(Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Stanley Chera, 78, second from right, was a real estate developer and property owner who started out in New York’s outer boroughs and moved onto the big stage of Manhattan. He was the only person so far to die from covid-19 whom President Trump called a friend. A leading figure in New York’s Syrian Jewish community, Chera owned large swaths of retail space on Fifth Avenue, gave many millions to charities and was an early and generous supporter of Trump’s presidential run.
Read more about him(Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
“Adam Schlesinger took pop music writing to its classiest and most untouchable place.”
Adam Schlesinger, 52, co-founded the rock band Fountains of Wayne and racked up many accolades for his music over the years, including Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for writing the title track to the 1996 comedy “That Thing You Do!” and a Grammy nomination in 2003 for the band’s tongue-in-cheek “Stacy’s Mom.”
Bennie Adkins, 86, received the Medal of Honor in 2014, 48 years after close-combat fighting in Vietnam. A farmer’s son eager to see the world outside Oklahoma, he had volunteered for Army Special Forces training and found himself in a harrowing firefight in the steep hills of the A Shau Valley.
Read more about him(Shandrea Hickok)
Douglas Hickok, 57, a physician assistant in and out of uniform, was the first service member to die of the coronavirus. The New Jersey Army National Guard captain, baseball fanatic and outdoorsman was the latest of three generations of family members to serve in uniform — and his son will be the fourth.
Read more about him(Tibor Olah/AP)
“His solos are full of secrets.”
Lee Konitz, 92, was an alto saxophonist who was an innovative figure in jazz for more than 70 years. He was the last surviving member of the groundbreaking “Birth of the Cool” group of the 1940s, with Miles Davis.
Read more about him(Christine Bagby)
Jeff Bagby, 60, was a math whiz, family man and legend in the world of DIY loudspeaker building. He was unfailingly upbeat — even as he endured kidney failure and cancer — and sometimes wore a Superman tee his wife bought him beneath a button-up shirt like Clark Kent.
Read more about him(Sophia Germer/AP)
Ellis Marsalis, 85, was a pianist and patriarch of a jazz dynasty that included his sons Branford and Wynton Marsalis. They and their brothers became unquestionably the American first family of jazz.
“George Valentine epitomized what it is to be a dedicated public servant.”
George Valentine, 66, was a longtime lawyer in the D.C. Attorney General’s Office who later worked as a legal adviser to the mayor. A Harvard Law graduate, he mentored young lawyers and served as a foster parent.
Jason Hargrove, 50, was a city bus driver with the Detroit Department of Transportation who took to Facebook in late March to warn others of the virus. A woman had boarded his bus and coughed several times. “This is real,” he said in a video. “For us to get through this and get over this, man, y’all need to take this s— serious.” He died a week and a half later.
Bucky Pizzarelli, 94, was one of the nation’s preeminent seven-string guitarists. He began his career as a coveted sideman and studio musician before forming an acclaimed jazz duo with one of his sons.
Read more about him(Jeff Barnett-Winsby)
“He was probably our most impassioned advocate of architecture as a means toward social justice.”
Michael Sorkin, 71, was a fiery champion of social justice and sustainability in architecture and urban planning. He emerged as one of his profession’s most incisive public intellectuals over a multifaceted career as a critic, author, teacher and designer. Sorkin was an architectural gadfly, known for biting attacks on structures that he deemed pretentious or lacking in social purpose.
Read more about him(Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)
David C. Driskell, 88, was an artist, art historian, art collector, art teacher, author and curator who became an influential champion of African American art. His painting “Behold Thy Son,” depicting the mutilated corpse of Emmett Till, was called a “modern-day Pietà.”
Read more about him(Seth Wenig/AP)
Rabbi Romi Cohn, 91, survived the Holocaust and helped rescue 56 Jewish families during World War II. Born in Czechoslovakia, he moved to Brooklyn, became a respected rabbi and a mohel, and delivered the opening prayer before Congress on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Read more about him(Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for Country Thunder)
“When you think of ’90s country, you think Joe Diffie.”
Joe Diffie, 61, was a Grammy-winning artist and icon of mid-90s country music, whose hits included “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “Home” and “Pickup Man.” He inspired the careers of younger singers, who named-checked him in their music and introduced his work to a new generation of fans.
Patricia Bosworth, 86, was an actress turned journalist and acclaimed author of biographical studies of self-destructive figures, including members of her own family.
“He was a kind, groundbreaking chef who paved the way for so many South Asians.”
Floyd Cardoz, 59, was an influential India-born chef and restaurateur who was widely credited with introducing the flavors of his homeland to New York’s fine-dining scene in the 1990s. He won multiple James Beard Awards and Season 3 of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”
Read more about him(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Terrence McNally, 81, was a prolific, much-honored playwright who rose to the forefront of American theater with a humane and lyrical style in works such as “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class.” McNally was a pivotal American dramatist, particularly as art and politics collided during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.
Read more about him(Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)
Henry Grimes, 84, was one of the most promising jazz bass players of the 1950s and 1960s, working with superstars and appearing on more than 50 recordings. Then he disappeared for more than 30 years, only to make a triumphant return to music after the year 2000.
Read more about him(Julie Ciardiello)
“She could teach a rock to read.”
Susan Rokus, 73, was a teacher for 55 years. Former students spoke of her lasting influence, friends spoke of her loyalty and love of Italian food, and colleagues spoke of her colorful outfits and distinctive decor — especially the leopard-print chair, shaped like a stiletto, that she kept in her classroom.
Text composed by Derek Hawkins and Katie Mettler. Edited by Ann Gerhart and Herman Wong. Photo editing by Nick Kirkpatrick and Karly Domb Sadof. Videos produced by Allie Caren and Adriana Usero. Copy editing by Emily Codik. Design and development by Tyler Remmel.