Faces of the coronavirus pandemic: Remembering those who died

From a flight attendant who worked for decades to a veteran police detective, more than 7,000 people have died in the United States in the last several weeks from the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

Those we've lost come from all backgrounds and walks of life and include the very people -- first responders and medical staff, who are working so diligently to stem the tide of the infection and care for the sick. Variously described as heroes, caring educators and loving family members, they will never be forgotten.

Here's a look at some of those who have lost their lives:

Marylou Armer

Santa Rosa, California, police detective Marylou Armer "was a bright light in this organization," Santa Rosa Police Chief Rainer Navarro said.

Armer, who died on March 31, joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in evidence collection in September 1999. She became an officer in May 2008.

Armer's most recent assignment was as a detective with the domestic violence and sexual aggression team.

Armer was a "thoughtful and committed public servant" who was "always proactive and there with a smile," Navarro said.

"A hero remembered is never forgotten," he said.

Francis "Frank" Boccabella III

Francis "Frank" Boccabella III, 39, was the first federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee to die from COVID-19.

Boccabella joined the TSA in 2004, working as an explosive detection canine handler at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

He then worked as a compliance inspector and then an explosive detection canine handler at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport.

"Frank was dedicated to protecting the traveling public with his canine partner, Bullet, a 6-year-old German Short-haired Pointer and his previous canine partner, Zmay," the TSA said. "Frank and his canine partners screened hundreds of thousands of passengers, keeping them and the transportation network safe."

"His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him and cherished both his friendship and professionalism," the TSA said. "We offer heartfelt condolences to Frank's wife, extended family, his TSA colleagues and his friends."

James Brown

James Brown, 48, was the principal of Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, New Jersey, since 2012.

"He leaves behind his wife, Sherry, his three children, and an entire school community who loved him dearly," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted.

In a statement, the Caldwell-West Caldwell Public School District said Brown "introduced a House System to foster team-building and school spirit, and he created an Advisory/Enrichment Program that allows students to develop networks of support and to explore their interests."

"He brought in many speakers from all walks of life to provide students with models of determination, grit, and commitment to helping those in need. Mr. Brown's unmatched dedication to community service inspired students, faculty, and parents to focus on compassion for our fellow citizens and to make a difference every day," read the statement. "We mourn the loss of a wonderful colleague who enriched our lives with his kindness, intelligence, and humor, we extend our deepest condolences to his family."

Judith Conkey, Lewis Conkey, David Conkey

Three members of an Ohio family -- Judith Conkey, her husband Lewis Conkey and their son David Conkey -- all died from coronavirus.

"My uncle passed away first and then my grandmother and my grandfather, they both passed the same day," Judith and Lewis Conkey's granddaughter, Katie Garbrandt, told ABC News.

"Everyone's deterioration went pretty quickly," she said. "My grandparents did know that they were in the same hospital and they could communicate by phone, but they didn't know one's condition one day from the next. And we didn't tell my grandparents when my uncle had passed away. They were on life support and we just we just couldn't do that."

"I don't know if there's a word to describe how close-knit we are," Garbrandt said. He said his grandparents were married in 1963 and "did everything together. ... They were always there for us."

"Take it seriously," Garbrandt said of the virus. "We want to spare any family we can from the trauma that we're going through. We can't have funeral the proper way. We can't grieve with our friends and our family. And it just makes everything 10 times worse."

Cedric Dixon

Cedric Dixon, 48, was a New York Police Department detective who served the city for 23 years, according to the Detectives' Endowment Association.

"We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

"I've spoke to many of his friends and coworkers since this morning. He was known as the person who would do anything to help you," Shea said. "He is going to be so sorely missed."

Larry Edgeworth

Larry Edgeworth was a longtime NBC News employee.

Edgeworth, who died on March 19, most recently worked in an equipment room at NBC News' New York headquarters. He spent 25 years as an NBC News audio technician, traveling around the world with producers and correspondents, before working in an equipment room at the network's New York headquarters, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said.

"He was truly one of the nicest men I've ever had the pleasure of working with," wrote NBC News meteorologist Dylan Dreyer. "Through the coldest snowstorm, he always had a smile on his face. ... I'll miss this wonderfully kind man very much."

Edgeworth is survived by his wife and two sons.

Angel Escamilla

Angel Escamilla was a pastor with the Calvary Church of Naperville in Illinois.

"I personally found Pastor Angel to be a man of strong faith in the Lord, a man in the Word, and a man of GREAT prayer!" wrote Pastor Marty Sloan. "If anyone ever spoke into the heavens in prayer, it was Pastor Angel. He will be forever missed on our team and in the church family."

Paul Frishkorn

Paul Frishkorn, 65, had been a flight attendant with American Airlines since 1997 and was based in Philadelphia.

"Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as a Flight Service Champion twice," said a statement from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. "He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants."

Frank Gabrin

Dr. Frank Gabrin, a New Jersey emergency room doctor, "was committed to health care" and always wanted to be a doctor, his friend of 20 years, Debra Vasalech Lyons, told ABC News.

"He had survived a lot of things. Not only did he survive two bouts of cancer, he was part of emergency medicine during the AIDS epidemic," she said.

In Gabrin's emergency room, the coronavirus pandemic "went from manageable to unmanageable almost overnight," Lyons said.

"He said, 'Look, the gloves that I have a size medium, I'm an extra large. Every time I put them on, they break. I've had to use this week my mask for four shifts,'" she recalled. "The hand-washing stations, they were so busy. They were running out of soap."

When Gabrin fell ill with coronavirus symptoms, he self-quarantined at home, she said.

Lyon recalled Gabrin telling her: "I'm very grateful that I have it mild. Within a couple of weeks I'll be through this and I'll have the antibodies and be ready to go back to work."

Gabrin is survived by his husband.

Ron Golden

Ron Golden was the brother of Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

She wrote on Instagram, "To many, he'll be a statistic: Tennessee's second COVID-related death. But to me, I'll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father, and husband."

"Ron was a tough-as-nails Marine who was a big teddy bear on the inside," Flanagan wrote.

Flanagan wrote that Golden was diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago.

"His immune system was compromised and he contracted COVID-19," she wrote. "He was put in a medically induced coma and placed on a ventilator. He fought it as hard as he could but it was simply too much for his body. THIS is why we must #StayHome."

Golden died on March 21.

James Goodrich

Dr. James Goodrich was a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at New York City's Montefiore Medical Center.

Goodrich, who died on March 30, specialized in children with complex neurological conditions and created an approach for separating twins who are fused at the brain and skull, according to the medical center, where he worked for three decades.

In 2016, he famously led a team of doctors in a 27-hour-long procedure to separate 13-month-old twin boys.

Goodrich was not only a "pioneer" in his field, but also "a humble and truly caring man" remembered for baking holiday cookies and delivering them to the Children's Hospital nurses each year, Montefiore Medical Center officials said in a statement.

"Dr. Goodrich was a beacon of our institution and he will be truly missed," Montefiore Medicine CEO Dr. Philip Ozuah said in a statement. "His expertise and ability were second only to his kind heart and manner."

Douglas Hickok

Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, of the New Jersey National Guard, was a drilling guardsman in the medical command and a civilian physician assistant.

His daughter, Shandrea Hickok, says her favorite memories are the adventures her father took her and her brother on.

"He loved to travel and take us to parks, museums, battleships, military bases, movie theaters, beaches, and restaurants," Shandrea Hickok said in a statement. "He also loved to go hiking, including up in the mountains of Utah where I went to school or on the Appalachian Trail where he lived in Pennsylvania. He enjoyed learning about wilderness survival and attended many medical conferences that had outdoor trainings."

"I love how caring and devoted my dad was," she said. "He traveled a lot for work but would drive hours to visit my brother and I. When I graduated college last year in Utah, he flew out to Utah and got a rental truck to drive me back to the East Coast. We had great memories driving through the Rocky Mountains."

His sister, Mary Hickok Scott, called her brother "fearless" and said he "kept serving others, even at his own risk! He loved medicine & he fought for the best treatments for his patients. My brother loved serving his country."

Jeff Hopkins

Jeff Hopkins, 41, who died on April 1, was a deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado.

He had been with the department since 2001 and leaves behind his wife, Wendy.

Kim King-Smith

Kim King-Smith, who died on March 31, was an EKG technician working the night shift at the University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of the hospital.

"We lost a great one," Elnahal tweeted. "Kim King-Smith was a hero."

"She was a front line hero. God bless her," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Silvia Melendez

Silvia Melendez, from Utah, was just 24 years old.

According to her brother, her immune system was weakened from an open heart surgery two years ago,

"She's the one that helped a lot of people, very open heart, and amazing, amazing. I will miss her, I will miss her so much," her father, Marcos Melendez, told CBS affiliate KUTV in Salt Lake City.

"You could communicate with Silvia through your looks and she would give you these eyes and you would already know what she was saying, and she would know what you were saying," her friend Acacia Probert told KUTV.

Her family said they plan to hold a celebration of life once quarantine has ended.

Maria Mercader

Maria Mercader, 54, was a cancer survivor and a CBS News journalist for three decades, joining the network in 1987.

"Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit," Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer, said in a statement released by the network.

"Even when she was hospitalized - and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement, and would say 'you can do this,'" Zirinksy said. "I called Maria a 'warrior,' she was. Maria was a gift we cherished."

"The Maria we are privileged to call family and friend knew better than most the power of relationships, loyalty, faith, kindness, perseverance and a smile, even when a smile defied the darkness of the moment," added Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, CBS News' EVP of strategic professional development. "Her notable professional contributions are part of the CBS Archives, but it is her magnificent human spirit that touched so many of us, that will stay with us forever."

MaryBeth Papetti

MaryBeth Papetti, 65, who is survived by her husband, son and daughter-in-law, "devoted her life to her family and her work in the healthcare field," according to her obituary.

After becoming a registered nurse, Papetti, who died on March 24, became the director of nursing at several long-term care facilities in New Jersey,

"MaryBeth was known for going above and beyond in her career, not only because of her dedication to her patients, but also for being an inspirational role model to her colleagues," her obituary said.

"She especially found joy in planning family gatherings, in particular her annual family Christmas Eve party," and recently helping plan her son and daughter-in-law's wedding.

Papetti was also an aunt of an ABC News employee.

Phillip Perry

Phillip Perry was the principal of G.W. Carver Middle School in Texas.

"Mr. Perry has been a role model to countless students in our district and in his neighborhood," said a statement from the Waco Independent School District. "He cared deeply for his students and colleagues at G.W. Carver Middle School, providing guidance and support at any time.

"In addition to serving as principal at Carver, Mr. Perry often umpired local baseball games and refereed basketball games, offering words of encouragement to young athletes."

Sypraseuth "Bud" Phouangphrachanh

Sypraseuth "Bud" Phouangphrachanh, a deputy sheriff with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina, died on March 31 and is survived by his wife and five children, said Sheriff Chris Watkins.

"Deputy Phouangphrachanh was affectionately known as "Deputy Bud" by his co-workers, community and his students where he served as a School Resource Officer," Watkins said in a statement published by ABC Charlotte affiliate WSOC.

"During his service to Montgomery County he filled many roles, but his passion was as a School Resource Officer where he worked with middle school and high school students," Watkins said. "His dedication to youth led him to attend DARE Instructor Training, which he loved and believed in as a tool to better his community."

Janice Preschel

Janice Preschel, 60, of Teaneck, New Jersey, "was the founder of the Helping Hands Food Pantry that has fed countless families for more than a decade," tweeted New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

"She was active in her temple - Temple Emeth - and was a past president of the Teaneck Rotary," he wrote.

Wayne Reese Sr.

Wayne Reese Sr., 74, was a beloved high school football coach in New Orleans.

Reese played football for Tennessee State and the Los Angeles Rams before spending more than 40 years as a head coach in his native New Orleans, reported Nola.com.

"He was a great man and role model and assisted so many inner-city student-athletes in getting to college and getting a degree," the Louisiana High School Coaches Association told ABC News.

Isaac Robinson

Isaac Robinson was a state representative for Michigan's 4th House District.

"Rep. Isaac Robinson had a huge heart, a quick wit, and a genuine passion for the people," tweeted Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "He was a fierce advocate for Detroiters and people across Southeast Michigan."

"He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come. Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me," she tweeted. "It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him."

Robinson died on March 29.

Dan Spector

Dan Spector was a Memphis artist who was gifted from an early age, his younger sister, Rachel Spector Peak, told ABC News.

After attending the Rhode Island School of Design, Spector launched a career in industrial design and started his own company for architectural molds and reproductions, Peak said.

"I'm on overload right now," she said.

Peak said her brother's funeral was held online, which she said was a "tremendous help."

"It was very painful. I mean to watch your brother get buried by video - to watch your brother period get buried is painful," she said. "At least I was able to see him and I could hear the rabbi's prayers and I could see the other people that were there, you know, on my iPad."

Israel Tolentino Jr.

Israel Tolentino Jr. was a firefighter in Passaic, New Jersey, who came on the job in December 2018.

"He was liked immediately. A wonderful, wonderful person. And he fit right in to that tour and made it his home," his fire chief, Patrick Trentacost, told ABC News. "We are family... we are there for 24 hours. We sleep there. And we laugh together and we cry together."

Tolentino "was always happy to jump in" to do fire education at local schools, said Trentacost.

The chief said that what made it especially difficult was that they couldn't give him the full honors they normally would bestow on a fallen member.

"We did our best, but we had to keep our distance. We had to maintain our personnel in the vehicles," Trentacost said. "We have to set the example for safety. We have to set the example of social distance. And we did it. We gave as much respect and honor as we possibly could. Certainly we couldn't go there and hug his wife Maria, who is a tremendous person. We couldn't hug his kids."

James Villecco

James Villecco, 55, was an auto mechanic with New York City's fire department, most recently working in the ambulance repair shop."Behind the thousands of calls our members respond to every day is a team of dedicated and skilled mechanics who ensure our ambulances are running 24/7," said Daniel Nigro, Commissioner of the FDNY. "James Villecco was one of those truly unsung heroes in our Department whose outstanding work provided medical care for the people of our city. The entire Department mourns his loss."Villecco, who died on March 29, lived in State Island and served six years in the Army, the FDNY said.

He is survived by his wife, Joy, and daughter, Jessica.

Bernard Waddell Sr.

Bernard Waddell, Sr. was a correctional police officer in Hudson County, New Jersey, who died after 28 years of service, according to the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association.

"He's going to be sorely missed," said Ron Edwards, director of the Hudson County Department of Corrections, according to NJ.com. "He was more than just an officer. He was a gentleman."

New Jersey's governor, Phil Murphy, called him a front-line hero.
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