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Honoring 5 American lives lost to COVID-19

Each week, the PBS NewsHour pauses to remember five Americans lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares memories and highlights from their lives.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we do each Friday evening, we pause now to remember just a few of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who've lost their lives to COVID-19.

    Darrel Eason was a mainstay of Saint Louis radio for decades.

  • Darrel Eason:

    Fifteen minutes after 6:00 on a Wednesday.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A friend said it was because of his smooth voice and charisma and the fact that the 58-year-old gave his very, very best every time he turned on that mic.

    He also poured himself into charitable causes, his family said. When he died, he had been working with his sons to launch a scholarship to help promising high school student athletes attend college.

    Peggy Marilyn Lee's love of music touched many facets of her life. The 71-year-old from Utah had made her living as a piano teacher, volunteered as an organist at church, and made sure to pass on her piano skills to her eight children. She made every occasion a family celebration, her daughter said, whether it meant getting Halloween and Valentine's gifts for her 33 grandchildren and sole great-grandchild, or baking special cookies to mark the 2017 solar eclipse.

    While family and colleagues described Deran Hill as kind and shy, he was still a linchpin at the Decatur, Alabama, restaurant where he worked. The 41-year-old had been a chef there since its early days, and he prided himself on his baking.

    But his cousin said he also aspired to start his own business or return to school to go into the medical field instead. Deran was well-known at his church as well. He especially appreciated singing in his church's gospel choir, his cousin added. It was the sort of music he enjoyed most.

    Heidi Brevet lived in the moment, her sister told us. The 61-year-old relished traveling with family and friends, which included a visit to Antarctica. But the trips that Heidi enjoyed most were the ones where she could relax and enjoy the banter with those around her.

    An avid sports fan, she could often be seen in the green and gold colors of her hometown baseball team, the Oakland Athletics. And she made a career out of working at nonprofits, her sister said, because she cared more about giving back to the community than anything else.

    Mary Barber lived in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for most of her life, and she spent so much of her career in its service. One of her most vivid memories was of attending the 1963 March on Washington. After some time in local government herself, Mary became director of a community center, before moving on to a job as a teacher's assistant.

    Her daughter told us that the 79-year-old cancer survivor and church leader was especially motivated to help the children of her community.

    As always, we are so grateful to the families who share these stories with us. Our hearts go out to each and every one of you.

    And we want to note that Mary Barber, whom you just heard about, was an aunt of one of our colleagues right here at WETA, where the "NewsHour" is produced. It is a reminder again that this pandemic has touched so many lives over the last year, even those close to us here.

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