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Honoring victims of the COVID-19 pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to ravage American communities, we take a moment to honor just a few of the many who have lost their lives to the deadly virus.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As COVID-19 continues to take a heavy toll on our communities, we again take a moment to honor those who have lost their lives to this deadly virus.

    Mario Aranda's life work was to empower people, his family said. Raised Mormon in Chihuahua, Mexico, Mario immigrated to Utah in 1959, where he met his wife of three decades. His work in linguistics then took him to Chicago, where he advocated for Latinos and promoted bilingual education.

    His marriage ended in the 1990s, and, in Berkeley, California, Mario found love a second time. He and his partner had 20 years together. The spiritual father of seven enjoyed hiking, swimming, meditating, and, like his mom, he was a voracious reader. Mario was 79.

    Those who knew 69-year-old David D. Swart Sr. described him as a simple man who worked hard every day for his family and friends. A lifelong resident of Upstate New York, he served as a lieutenant and 30-year veteran of the Amsterdam Fire Department.

    When he wasn't putting out fires, he was making hot dogs at his restaurant, Dave's Dawgs, and devoting time to his family. His son said Dave loved big and was a first responder in both work and spirit, always showing up for those in need.

    Saludacion Solon Fontanilla grew up in the Philippines wanting to go into medicine. In 1993, Saludacion, or Sally, moved to California to work in nursing. For more than two decades, Sally was a bedside nurse at St. Mary Medical Center, where her husband also worked. The two were high school friends in the Philippines and married in 2000.

    Described by her husband as sweet and laid back, Sally was 51 years old.

    Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, 60-year-old Juan Carlos Rangel was known as the Fixer. Juan, who went by Charlie, fixed cars for a living. Neighbors and family called him the honest mechanic, and said he never overcharged for the job. He shared his passion for machinery with his four daughters, teaching them about engines and welding. One of them went on to become a mechanical engineer.

    Jim Goulding served as a United Methodist chaplain, professor, and dean over his three decades at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. Jim continued teaching even in retirement. After the 9/11 attacks, he created courses on Islam to foster dialogue and understanding of the religion in Madison, Wisconsin.

    Jim also led Sunday school classes and enjoyed traveling with his wife of 51 years. A beloved father and grandfather, Jim was 83 years old.

    Thank you to the family members who shared these stories, so important, as we tell the lives of your loved ones.

    Our heart goes out to you, as they do to all those who have lost loved ones in this pandemic.

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