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The stories behind 5 wonderful lives cut short by COVID-19

Every Friday, we take a moment now to remember some of the extraordinary lives of those we have lost to the coronavirus. Here are their stories.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we do every week, we take a moment now to remember some of the extraordinary lives of those we have lost to the coronavirus.

    Born in Washington, D.C., Ronnie Hogue learned to love basketball at an early age. In 1969, he became the first African American to receive a full athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia. His son said he often faced racism during his playing years, but, still, he became a star at Georgia, setting the school's at-home single-game scoring record.

    Later in life, he built a successful career in retail. And his son says he was a loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who made friends wherever he went. Ronnie Hogue was 69 years old.

    Philamena Belone's calling in life was teaching. A member of the Navajo Nation, she always had a connection with kids, especially the ones going through a tough time. The 44-year-old mother of three first taught in Albuquerque public schools, but later moved to an elementary school in the Navajo Nation, so she could give back to her community.

    She loved to run, dance and make people laugh. Her brother said Philamena never judged others, and she helped him become a better father and husband.

    Raised Baptist in a North Carolina mill town, Frank Perry fell in love with the organ at a local Lutheran church. After serving his country in occupied Japan during World War II, Frank returned home to become a Lutheran minister and raise a family of three with his wife, Martha.

    Throughout his six decades as a pastor, his daughter said he always looked for the good in people and was accepting of everyone. The 96-year-old served his community to the very end, even preaching to Alzheimer's patients at his assisted living facility.

    The grandson of sharecroppers, James Scott was born in Mississippi. After losing his father as a teenager, James helped his mother work their land before being called to the ministry. After marrying his wife, Virginia, he moved to Tennessee, and for the next six decades, he was the pastor and later bishop of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in Chattanooga.

    James was a giver, his daughter said, and even when the family had very little, he found a way to help others. At 87 years old, after 65 years of marriage, James passed away, less than a day after his beloved wife, Virginia.

    From the age of 19, Christine Riley served her community as a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia. After joining the congregation, she was a pediatric nurse and administrator for nearly two decades.

    Described as fun-loving, Sister Christine would drop anything to comfort the sick and support her neighbors struggling with homelessness or addiction, friends said. She also loved to sing, particularly folk songs about her beloved West Virginia. Sister Christine Riley was 84 years old.

    And we are so grateful to family members for sharing these stories with us. Our hearts go out to you, each one of you, as they do to everyone who has lost a loved one in this pandemic.

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