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Remembering 5 people lost to the coronavirus pandemic

December has seen a staggering rise in the number cases and the deaths in the U.S. from the pandemic. As we do each Friday, we take a moment to honor five individuals who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The month is barely half over, and has already seen a staggering rise in the cases and the deaths across the U.S. from the pandemic.

    We want to take this moment, as we do every Friday, to honor five individuals who have lost their lives.

    Here are their stories.

    Linda Benson could be quiet at first, but had a bright and inviting smile. Her daughter said she loved to tell jokes. As a single mom in her 20s, Linda bought a typewriter so she could work at the local newspaper. She spent over 30 years there working her way up to supervising classified ad sales.

    With her two children, she frequented the movie theater and the nail salon, and enjoyed road-tripping around her home in Oklahoma City. Her seven grandchildren said she was like a second mother. Linda was 74 years old.

    Sixty-nine-year-old Robert Roy Rackleman's (ph) identity was his music, his family said. For nearly 40 years, Robert opened up his Winter Haven, Florida, garage studio for Thursday jam nights. He collected numerous instruments, teaching himself to play.

    Later in life, Robert embraced other passions, photography and Meals on Wheels, incorporating musical performance into his deliveries. A husband and father to two, Robert's family described him as outgoing and gentle.

    Reverend Wilbert Robertson, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, built three Baptist churches in north and South Dakota from the ground up, alongside his wife of 59 years. They met while serving in the Air Force. Wilbert served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

    He was reserved, generous and caring, his daughter said, a man of character who people turned to for advice. Wilbert was 86 years old.

    Melinda Roellig's parents always knew their daughter had a future in music. By 3 years old, she could already sing on key. She excelled at the trumpet in her high school and college marching bands and earned a master's degree in music education. Melinda spent more than a decade teaching art and choir in her hometown, Clarksville, Indiana.

    The 37-year-old was a kind, outgoing and encouraging teacher who always looked for new ways to engage her class. She even brought in many of her own books for students to read and borrow, among them, her favorite series, "Harry Potter."

    Sister Beverly Hindson turned hospital rooms into sacred spaces. A founding member of the Detroit Children's Hospital's Pastoral Care Department, Sister Beverly spent 32 years comforting children, their families, and even staff during difficult times.

    Sister Beverly was known by the kids as the queen of fun. She played with them and supported them during treatments. Sister Beverly was 73.

    We want to thank all the family members who shared these stories with us, made it possible to tell these stories. Our hearts go out to you, as they do to all who've lost loved ones during this pandemic.

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