As the U.S. continues to grapple with new strains of the coronavirus, we take a moment to share the stories of five extraordinary individuals who have fallen victim to COVID-19 in this country.
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And now, as we do every Friday, we take a moment to share the stories of five extraordinary individuals who have fallen victim to COVID-19 in this country.
For decades, David Schmitz was known to people in Wheaton, Minnesota, as the man behind Dave's Bar & Arcade. He loved talking to his customers, and would quietly lend a helping hand to those in need, his wife said. Dave was the youngest of 15 and grew up on his family's farm in Wheaton. After a brief stint in the Navy, he spent the rest of his life in his hometown.
He loved hunting, fishing and watching his grandchildren play sports. Dave was 80 years old.
Wanda Kay Johnson was the matriarch of her family. Everyone called her Auntie Kay, and she loved spending time with her five grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Wanda grew up in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, before moving to Wheeling, West Virginia in her 40s.
Her family told us she had recently battled several health issues, but she still made time to volunteer at a local homeless shelter and food pantry. She was 63.
Charles Barr was always joyful, his sister said. He played sports all his life and won a gold medal in swimming at the Pennsylvania Special Olympics three years ago. After graduating from high school, he worked at a nonprofit with other people who have intellectual disabilities.
His sister told us Charlie's favorite pastime was walking the streets of his hometown of Bradford, making friends with the local community along the way. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Buffalo Bills, and loved rock bands like Kiss. Charlie was 45.
Ninety-Eight-year-old Laura Miller was known for her wide-ranging group of friends. Raised in Missouri, she settled in Boston, where she opened her home to international students from Harvard and Boston University.
Her daughter said, even after her mother lost her husband, John, and her son Kirk, she still managed to find the joy in life. A dedicated Unitarian Universalist, Laura was passionate about countering racism and making newcomers to the United States feel welcome.
Diane Fillmore's house was always full of music. Her daughter said she loved listening to old-school R&B, as well as contemporary and country artists. Diane spent six years in the Navy, where she received a Good Conduct Medal. She left the service to raise her three children in Dayton, Ohio.
Diane was strict but kind and seen as the cool mom among her children's friends, her family told us. She changed course at 50, gaining an associate degree and working in medical data management around Dayton. Diane was 59.
And thank you so much to family members who share these stories with us. Our hearts go out to you, as they do to everyone who's lost a loved one in this pandemic.