Every Friday, we take a moment to remember five people lost to COVID-19. Here are their stories.
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As we do at the end of every week, we remember some of the remarkable individuals who've lost their lives to COVID-19.
Aaron Aihini had a deep belly laugh and a natural charm, traits that made him a great friend and a gifted salesman, his family said. Brooklyn-bred, he served in the Korean War as a combat medic. Days before shipping off, he married, starting a 69-year partnership.
After years in sales, he opened a wholesale bakery business with his son, best known for their take on the iconic New York black and white cookie.
This is a New York product. It's a way of life in New York.
Even at 89 years old, Aaron was an avid baseball fan, who loved cheering on the Yankees with his kids and grandkids, and cracking the bat on his neighborhood team.
Heather Williams was usually the loudest mom cheering on the sidelines for her kids' sports games. Born in Oklahoma, she settled with her husband in Houston, Texas. The couple, both college athletes, loved sports, whether they were watching the Texas Longhorns or little league.
Heather was deeply compassionate and caring, her husband said, not only as a wife, mother and friend, but also as a teacher. The 42-year-old taught kids of all ages, from elementary to high school, in person and virtually throughout the pandemic.
Jordan Tassy was the social glue among his friends, who said he was outgoing, hilarious, and deeply loyal to those he loved. At high school in Montclair, New Jersey, a school project led Jordan to discover an interest in and talent for photography.
When he graduated, Jordan, known to friends as Polo, launched a film business called PoloFilms, where he directed and shot music videos and performances for aspiring artists. Jordan was 22 years old.
Teresa Twist was told to drop out of high school when she couldn't read the chalkboard, and, soon after, was declared legally blind. She left and became a mother, but she never lost her drive to get educated. Decades later, she completed her degree.
From there on, Teresa dedicated herself to helping other children with disabilities, as a teacher's aide in Ocala, Florida. Fun and bubbly, the 62-year-old wife and mother was easy to befriend, striking a special bond with her oldest granddaughter.
Coach Damien Jackson never raised his voice off the field. A former high school football and track star, Damien returned to his alma mater in Columbia, South Carolina, as a math teacher, offensive coordinator and girls track and field coach.
In every role, he was calm and steady, a great listener and a sounding board for anyone in need, his wife said. After a long friendship and courtship, the pair tied the knot and had two children of their own. Damien was 42 years old.
And we thank family members for sharing these stories with us. Our hearts go out to you, as they do to everyone who's lost a loved one in this pandemic.