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Mourning 5 people lost to the pandemic

Once again, the NewsHour pauses to remember a few of the Americans who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Once again, we remember a few of the many extraordinary people who have lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Forty-seven-year-old Heidi Hussli always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Her sister said Heidi was fearless and pushed others to be the best version of themselves. While studying abroad in Germany during college, Heidi fell in love with the country, the language, and her future husband of 24 years.

    Heidi went on to become a German teacher in Wisconsin, sharing her passion with her students, among them, her son.

    Cassie Martinez hated cities and was most at home in the outdoors. Born and raised in San Diego, she and her boyfriend of eight years road-tripped to countless national parks along the Pacific Coast, from Canada to Mexico.

    Her friends knew her as kind and sympathetic, always there as a shoulder to cry on, but also blunt and honest. When Cassie passed at 29, she had landed a new job on her way to becoming a dental hygienist, and her boyfriend was planning to propose.

    Linda Eastwood's family called her their North Star. Every holiday, she'd fill her home with decorations and people. Linda, who went by Kellee, got engaged to her high school sweetheart, Bill, in 1966, but the two separated after he was sent to Germany during the Vietnam War.

    After 44 years apart, they reunited, thanks to Kellee's brother. The two married in 2010. It was her red hair and braces that attracted Bill to Kellee all those years ago, and he never forgot her, his soul mate and best friend. Kellee was 72.

    Ray and Joan Connery first met in the summer of 1953.

  • Joan Connery:

    There was I was on Craigville Beach in Hyannis minding my own business with four of my friends. Just happened to run into Ray.

  • Ray Connery:

    There were exciting looking woman.

  • Joan Connery:

    What made you talk to me?

  • Ray Connery:

    You looked like you had money.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ray served in the Navy during the Second World War. When he returned he became a Rhode Island State Trooper. Joan was a dietitian. They married within a year of meeting and raised five children together.

    Both had a passion for bettering the community. Joan started a literacy program at the Providence Hospital and advocated for better union contracts and teacher pay. Ray served 10 years on the town council.

    They traveled the world together, but were equally happy at home, hosting dinners with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They passed within 22 days of each other, both 93 years old.

    Every one of these lives is precious.

    And, again, we thank family members for sharing these stories. Our hearts go out to you, as they do to everyone who's lost a loved one in this pandemic.

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