The people we’ve lost to coronavirus

Anthony Mason shares the stories of jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, veteran nurse Judy Wilson-Griffin, and others who were lost to COVID-19.

Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, mom of NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns with his mom, Jacqueline.


Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, fought a month-long battle with coronavirus. She died on April 13 at 58 years old.

“It’s been very difficult for me and my family to say the least. She’s the head of the household. She’s the boss,” Towns said.

Cruz-Towns, who was with her son when he was the number-one pick in the 2015 NBA draft, did not miss a single game in his first season.

“Her passion was palpable,” the Towns family said in a statement. “And her energy will never be replaced.”

Tim Brooke-Taylor, comedian

FILE PHOTO: Actor Tim Brooke-Taylor arrives for Service of Thanksgiving for Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Barker at Westminster Abbey
Actor Tim Brooke-Taylor is pictured at Westminster Abbey in London, March 3, 2006.

Stephen Hird/REUTERS

British comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor, best known as a member of the 1970s comedy trio The Goodies, died April 12 of COVID-19. He was 79.

A part of Cambridge University’s Footlights revue in the early 1960s, Brooke-Taylor didn’t put his law degree to use, as he worked with several future members of Monty Python in such 1960s TV comedy series as “The Frost Report,” “At Last the 1948 Show,” “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” and the radio series “I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again.” He also appeared in “Marty” (with Marty Feldman).

Beginning in 1970 Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie teamed up on the BBC as the comedy trio The Goodies, whose surreal, slapstick- and music-filled series ran for nine seasons. They even had top 10 hits with their songs “The Inbetweenies” and “Funky Gibbon.”

On radio Brooke-Taylor starred opposite John Cleese and Oddie on “I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again,” and for more than 40 years, he was also a panelist on BBC Radio’s beloved takeoff on quiz shows, “I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue.”

In 2018 Brooke-Taylor told the Radio Times that he was very proud of the staying power of “The Goodies,” “though this is tempered, slightly, by what appear to be quite old people coming up to me and saying, ‘My parents used to allow me to stay up to watch you’!”

Garden said Brooke-Taylor was “a funny, sociable, generous man who was a delight to work with. Audiences found him not only hilarious but also adorable.”

Anthony Causi, sports photographer

Obit Sports Photographer
New York Post photographer Anthony J. Causi is shown before a New York Mets baseball game in New York, Aug. 2, 2016.

Christopher Pasatieri/AP

Photographer Anthony Causi, who covered sports for the New York Post for 25 years, died April 12 from the coronavirus. He was 48. Born in Brooklyn, Causi graduated from Pace University and joined The Post as a photo messenger before advancing to photo editor and then full-time journalist photographer.

Causi was a smiling and friendly fixture at venues all across the New York area, from Yankee Stadium to Madison Square Garden. His action shots often popped impressively on the Post’s sports pages, and he was admired not only by colleagues but also by the famous players he chronicled.

His uncle, Joe Causi, an on-air personality for WCBS-FM Radio, said his nephew often took photos at Little League events pro bono.

On March 22 Causi posted a photo of himself on Instagram breathing through a respirator: “I never thought I would get something like this. I thought I was indestructible. If I do make it out of here, I promise you this: the world’s not going to know what hit it.”

Major League Baseball called Causi a “sports photojournalist extraordinaire” and said he “brought out the best in the players and the people of our National Pastime.”

Dan Spano, personal trainer

Dan Spano with his niece.

Spano family

Dan Spano, a personal trainer in Connecticut, died of COVID-19 on April 11. He was 30.

Spano owned a GYMGUYZ franchise with his college roommate Jimmy Bonavita and friend Sam Langer.

“He was such a great spirit,” said Spano’s first client, Mark Brooks. “He was just so committed. I mean, we loved him.”

Multiple clients considered Spano a part of their families. One of them, named Rodrigo Placido, said they would “see each other three or four times a week” and Spano “adored” his kids.

Melissa, Spano’s sister, said one of her favorite memories was him singing his favorite song, “Tiny Dancer,” “at the top of his lungs.”

Spano was “infatuated” with his 3-month-old niece, Adrianna, Melissa said. “It breaks my heart that she’s not going to have the opportunity to know Uncle Dan,” she said.

Spano had no underlying conditions, according to his sister. “He was perfectly healthy,” she said. “He could be anyone.”

Prea Nankieshore, ER clerk and mom of twins

Lives to Remember: Health care worker and mom Prea Nankieshore

Prea Nankieshore, a New York City emergency room clerk, passed away due to COVID-19 on April 8. She was 34.

Nankieshore was the first person people saw in the emergency room, registering patients at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, a hospital in Queens, New York.

A mother of 8-year-old twin boys, “Prea was a walking angel,” said her fiancé Markus Kahn, who’d known her since high school. “She’s the most unselfish person I ever met in my life.”

Nankieshore “wanted to help people,” her colleague Dr. Rachel Bruce said.

“Even when it became difficult and even frightening in the last month to come to work, she wanted to be somewhere she was needed,” Bruce said.

John Prine, songwriter

John Prine
John Prine performs onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018, in Nashville, Tennessee.


Celebrated songwriter John Prine, who Rolling Stone once called “the Mark Twain of American songwriting,” died in Nashville, Tennessee from coronavirus complications on April 7, according to his family. He was 73.

Prine, an army veteran and two-time cancer survivor, won a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier in 2020 for a career spanning four decades during which he was lauded by music giants like Bob Dylan and Bette Midler. His songs have been covered by old and new artists such as Johnny Cash, Carly Simon, Miranda Lambert and Old Crow Medicine Show.

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert honored Prine earlier in the week when he was hospitalized, sharing a previously unaired duet between the two from 2016. The comedian also mourned the musician’s death in a Tuesday tweet.

Hal Willner, “Saturday Night Live” music producer

The David Lynch Foundation's DLF Live Celebration Of The 60th Anniversary Of Allen Ginsberg's "HOWL" With Music, Words, And Funny People
Hal Willner attends The David Lynch Foundation’s DLF Live Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s “HOWL” with Music, Words, and Funny People at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on April 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Hal Willner, a music producer and longtime music supervisor for “Saturday Night Live” died at age 64, the Associated Press reported.

Blake Zidell, a representative for Willner, said the producer died April 7. Zidell said Willner had symptoms consistent with those caused by the coronavirus, but he had not been diagnosed with the virus before his death.

Willner selected music for “Saturday Night Live” skits since the early 1980s. He also helped launch the career of musician Jeff Buckley, when he produced a live tribute concert for his father, Tim Buckley, in New York in 1991.”Tonight Show” host and “SNL” alum Jimmy Fallon paid an emotional tribute to Willner at the beginning of his April 7 show, calling him a “music producer genius, creative genius.”

Lee Fierro, actress

Lee Fierro, who died Sunday, April 5 in Ohio from complications of COVID-19 at age 91, was a stage actress who had only a handful of film credits, but her first was a scene-stealer: Mrs. Kintner, mother of a boy who is killed by a shark, in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster “Jaws.” With a steely fire, she confronts Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), whom she blames for her son’s death, with a slap across the face.

Fierro had stepped away from acting to raise her family, and at first she turned down the part because, she said in a 25th anniversary documentary interview, she wasn’t happy about saying “four-letter words” in her confrontation with Scheider. So, it became a physical scene. “It was a quiet scene,” Fierro said. “Everybody was real quiet. Even the birds.” She repeated her role in the 1987 sequel “Jaws: The Revenge.”

As a resident of Martha’s Vineyard (where “Jaws” was filmed), Fierro worked with the local theatrical company, Island Theatre Workshop, appearing and directing in productions and instructing hundreds of young people. For 25 years she served as its artistic director.

“She was my teacher and mentor,” Kevin Ryan, the group’s current artistic director and board president, told the Martha’s Vineyard Times. “She was fiercely dedicated to the mission of teaching. She, no matter what it was, would stay at it and get the job done.”

Anthony Mason shares the stories of celebrated author Patricia Bosworth, Former New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, art historian David Driskell and others.

Tom Dempsey, legendary NFL kicker

Obit-Tom Dempsey
He was born without toes on his right foot; yet, in 1970 Tom Dempsey (January 12, 1947-April 4, 2020), then with the New Orleans Saints, launched a 63-yard field goal that stood as an NFL record for 43 years.


Tom Dempsey, a former New Orleans Saints kicker who set a field goal record that stood for over four decades, died of coronavirus complications on April 4. He was 73.

Dempsey, who suffered from dementia in his later years, was an NFL legend. The football star was born without most fingers on his right hand and no toes on his right foot. He went on to play 11 seasons in the league, and the special shoe he used during his record-setting career is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After the news of his death broke, Saints players past and present took to social media to remember Dempsey and his incredible career.

Patricia Bosworth, best-selling writer and actress

Composer Carter Burwell and biographer Patricia Bosworth arrive for the movie premiere of “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” at Chelsea West Theater Nov. 5, 2006, in New York. The movie script by Erin Cressida Wilson was adapted from Bosworth’s book “Diane Arbus: A Biography.”

GETTY IMAGES/Scott Wintrow

Patricia Bosworth, known for writing the acclaimed biographies of Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando and other stars, died of complications of the coronavirus in New York City on April 2. She was 86.

Though Bosworth had some early film credits, starring on Broadway and in the 1959 film “A Nun’s Story” alongside Audrey Hepburn, she found lasting success in journalism and as the biographer of complex but high-profile figures. Vanity Fair, where she had been a contributor since the 1980s, announced her death and published a moving tribute to her life on their website.

Nick Jesdanun, journalist

Anick Jesdanun

Jesdanun family

Anick Jesdanun, a longtime Associated Press journalist who went by “Nick,” died of the coronavirus on April 2 at age 51.

Jesdanun was a deputy tech editor for AP who had been writing for the news agency for two decades. An avid adventurer and runner, Jesdanun participated in marathons all over the world.

His cousin said Jesdanun “always helped his fellow runners if they were in distress,” and “he tirelessly helped young AP writers improve their pieces.”

Jack Zoller, doctor

Lives to Remember: Dr. Jack Zoller

Dr. Jack Zoller, an obstetrician and gynecologist in New Orleans, died from COVID-19 on April 2. He was 91.

In his long career, Zoller delivered more than 3,000 babies. His son Gary said he has “countless memories” of his dad getting up in the middle of the night to go deliver a baby.

Zoller left an impact on his patients and others. “If I could count the number of people in the Jack Zoller fan club, it would take a while,” Gary said. “He was pure and not judgmental and gave that to everyone as a gift.”

A lifelong New Orleans resident, Zoller graduated Tulane and LSU Medical School. He married Linda Malkin and together they raised four kids before she died of cancer in 1994.

At his second home in Telluride, Colorado, Zoller loved to fish and volunteered at the Telluride Film Festival.

He spent his last years in Lambeth House Retirement Community in New Orleans. Last month, the facility became the center of the city’s deadliest coronavirus cluster.

“He was the prince of Lambeth House,” Gary said. “If you knew him, you loved him.”

Mohammed Jafor, Bangladeshi immigrant and NYC taxi driver

Mohammed Jafor and his mother in Bangladesh.

Jafor family

Mohammed Jafor died from the coronavirus on April 1 at the age of 56.

Jafor came to New York City from Bangladesh in 1991 to make a better life for his family.

He took a job at McDonald’s, then as a restaurant deliveryman and finally driving a yellow taxi. Jafor also helped fellow Bangladeshi immigrants get on their feet after coming to the U.S., inviting people from the town he grew up in to stay with him while they got settled, according to one of his sons.In 2016, his first wife and mother of his three children died of cancer.

Through hard work, his two sons became the first in the family to go to college. The oldest, Mahbub Robin, graduated from City College. The youngest, Mahtab Shihab, is now at Harvard.

“It’s the immigrant’s dream come true,” Mahtab said. “He was so proud.”

David Driskell, artist and scholar

David Driskell

Getty Images

David Driskell, an artist and scholar of African American art, died on April 1 at age 88 from complications relating to the coronavirus.

Awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, Driskell pushed for black art to be seen as American art. Clinton had called him a “modern day dream keeper.”

As an artist, Driskell is best known for his 1956 painting, “Behold Thy Son,” which depicts the Virgin Mary wrapping her arms around the crucified and mutilated body of Emmett Till. The University of Maryland named its David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora in his honor in 2001.

Leilani Jordan, grocery store clerk

Lives to Remember: Grocery store clerk Leilani Jordan

Leilani Jordan, a Maryland grocery store clerk who wanted to keep working even though her front line job put her at high risk, died of the coronavirus on April 1. She was 27.

Jordan’s mother, Zenobia Shepherd, said her daughter, who had cerebral palsy, worked at Giant Food in Largo, Maryland for six years as part of the store’s disability program, and that she “loved her little job.” When the risks of the coronavirus had become clear, Shepherd said Jordan was adamant about going to work and continuing to help, especially because others were not showing up.

Jordan’s stepfather, Charles, told CNN that he had discovered a goodbye message Jordan had recorded on her phone before she died. In the message, he said Jordan addressed them, as well as her sisters, friends and service dog, Angel.

“She told them, ‘See you on the other side,'” Charles said.

Ellis Marsalis Jr., famed jazz family’s patriarch

Wynton Marsalis and his father, Ellis Marsalis play at Wynton Marsalis Awarded Legion of Honor held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Brian Zak/Sipa Press

Ellis Marsalis Jr., jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan that includes famed performer sons Wynton and Branford, has died after battling pneumonia brought by the coronavirus, one of his sons said on April 1. He was 85.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the musician’s death in a somber news release Wednesday night. The elder Marsalis had continued to perform regularly in New Orleans until December.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” Cantrell said in her statement. “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon – and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”

Bucky Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist

Obit - John "Bucky" Pizzarelli
Jazz guitarist John “Bucky” Pizzarelli.

Rich Schultz/AP

During a career that spanned eight decades, jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who died from the coronavirus on April 1 at age 94, performed for presidents and played alongside such artists as Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney and Michael Feinstein.

He’d learned banjo and guitar at an early age, and was already touring at 17. He was a longtime band member with Skitch Henderson, and played for several years on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He also recorded frequently with his son, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli.

In a 2019 interview with Jazz Times Pizzarelli talked about adapting to the seven-string Gretsch guitar, after a musical hero, George Van Eps, demonstrated it for him. The next day he went to Manny’s, near Times Squares, with some friends, and they each bought seven-string Gretsches. Was it hard to switch from a six-string? “It’s actually much easier,” said Pizzarelli, “because on the six-string you run out of notes. You’ve got no D-flat. I could never play ‘Lush Life’ until I got a seven-string.”

“Jazz guitar wouldn’t be what it is today without Bucky Pizzarelli,” jazz guitarist Frank Vignola told the Associated Press.

In 1992 “Sunday Morning” visited with Bucky and his son, John:

From 1992: Father and son: Guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and John Pizzarelli

Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne co-founder

Virgin Festival By Virgin Mobile 2007 - Show - Day 1
Bassist Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne performs onstage at the Virgin Festival By Virgin Mobile 2007 at Pimlico Race Course on August 4, 2007, in Baltimore, Maryland.


Adam Schlesinger, the New Jersey native who co-founded music groups Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, and was known for his work on the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” died April 1 from coronavirus-related complications at 52.

Schlesinger, a father of two, has been a career musician since the ’90s. He formed rock band Fountains of Wayne with college friend Chris Collingwood in 1995. With Schlesinger on bass and backup vocals, the band had a hit just one year later with “Radiation Vibe.”

In 1997, Schlesinger received an Academy Award nomination for writing the title song to the movie “That Thing You Do!” — the first film Tom Hanks directed. He has also been nominated for 10 Emmy awards for his song-writing work on TV shows, three of which he won. The 2003 Fountains of Wayne hit “Stacy’s Mom” was nominated for a Grammy.

Anthony Mason remembers “Star Wars” actor Andrew Jack, chef Floyd Cardoz, ICU nurse Araceli Buendia Ilagan and more coronavirus victims.

Marylou Armer, detective

Marylou Armer

Santa Rosa PD

Detective Marylou Armer, a 20-year veteran of the Santa Rosa Police Department in California, died on March 31 of COVID-19. She was 43.

“She was an example to other detectives on how to complete investigations, and at the end of the day, be a person and show empathy and professionalism,” said Detective Stephen Bussell, who was Armer’s longtime friend and worked with her in the domestic violence and sexual assault unit.

A solemn procession of 250 police and public safety vehicles escorted Armer’s body to the cemetery on April 3.

Her sister, Mari Lau, described Armer as a “very caring person.”

“My sister was known for her charisma and her ability to be compassionate,” Lau said. “I’m really going to miss hugging her.”

Frank Gabrin, ER doctor

A photo from Dr. Garbin’s Facebook page. His last post was about being positive and kind during the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook/Dr. Frank Garbin

Dr. Frank Gabrin, an emergency room doctor at East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey, died in his husband’s arms on March 31. The two-time cancer survivor first developed coronavirus symptoms on March 24 before succumbing to his illness. He was 60.

“He never complained about anything, he just wanted to work and help people,” his husband Arnold Vargas told

Many people are now sharing Gabrin’s last social media post. “Don’t forget about these tools people! They can be the most powerful drugs we have to use in this pandemic!” Gabrin wrote, sharing an image of a word cloud that included positive words like “tolerance,” “empathy,” “good will,” “human dignity,” and “open heart.”

Andrew Jack, “Star Wars” actor and dialect coach

Andrew Jack

Twitter/Gabrielle Rogers

“Star Wars” actor and dialect coach Andrew Jack died in the U.K. on March 31 as a result of the coronavirus. He was 76.

For several years during the 1970s, Jack worked as an airline steward, which not only exposed him to countless accents, dialects and cultural differences around the world, but also the importance of putting people at ease. They were skills that served his career as a dialect coach on an array of films, including “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Chaplin,” “Mansfield Park,” “Troy,” “Eastern Promises,” “Sherlock Holmes” (for which he also supplied the voice of Moriarty), “Robin Hood,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and several of Marvel’s “Avengers” films.

Jack also worked in front of the camera, appearing as Resistance figure Caluan Ematt in two “Star Wars” films: “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” His last project was “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson.

While he was in an ICU unit at a hospital near London, Jack’s wife, dialect coach Gabrielle Rogers, was in quarantine in Australia and tragically could not be with him. After he passed, Rogers tweeted: “We lost a man today. Andrew Jack was diagnosed with Coronavirus 2 days ago. He was in no pain, and he slipped away peacefully knowing that his family were all ‘with’ him.”

“Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood tweeted about the “heartbreaking news,” describing Jack as “a kind and lovely human being.”

Wallace Roney, jazz trumpeter

Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney.

William Claxton/Warner Bros. Records

Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney, who died from COVID-19 on March 31 at 59, was a member of a classical quintet at the age of 12. A student of Dizzy Gillespie, he would be mentored by Miles Davis (whom he met after Roney performed at a 1983 Radio City Music Hall tribute concert). He joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Tony Williams Quintet.

Roney, who began his recording career at age 15, played on more than 250 recordings, performing with such artists as Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock. He won a Grammy for participating in the 1994 album “A Tribute to Miles.”

An unabashed acolyte of Davis’, Roney also defended his own contributions to a continuum of jazz music. In a 2004 interview with Jazz Times, he described honing his skills, having played with the masters, as “opening the door to the universe. It didn’t spell out an ‘era.’ It spelled out the connection from this world to that world. There’s probably a whole lot more out there.”

New York Times critic Stanley Crouch once said of the artist, “Mr. Roney’s music embodies the essence of jazz, both taking advantage of and building on the past.”

Ben Luderer, teacher and coach

Lives to Remember: Baseball coach Ben Luderer

Ben Luderer, a special education teacher and baseball coach in New Jersey, died on March 30 after battling coronavirus. He was 30.

Luderer was a catcher on his high school baseball team. He went to Marist College on a baseball scholarship, and that’s where he met his wife, Brandy, who is also a special education teacher.

Known for his goofy sense of humor, Luderer “just opened up” with children, his former teammate, Dan Zlotnick, said. “His kindness and his smile really shone through when he was with the kids.”

Another former teammate, Eric Helmrich, commended Luderer for the work he did as a teacher.

“Being a special education teacher takes a special person. Being able to continue that and coach. It’s a lot to be so selfless and kind of give yourself — all of yourself — to as many people as you can,” he said.

When Luderer had coronavirus symptoms in March, his wife drove him to the hospital for treatment. He was sent home and seemed to be improving, but then he took a turn for the worse.

Joe Diffie, country music star

2019 Stagecoach Festival - Day 1
Joe Diffie performs onstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Field on April 26, 2019, in Indio, California.


Country music hit-maker Joe Diffie died March 29 at age 61 from complications related to the coronavirus. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, he spent his early years singing with bluegrass bands.

Diffie married his college sweetheart and worked as a machinist before he was laid off from his job and left bankrupt. His wife took their two kids and left, and Diffie rolled the dice by moving to Nashville. There, he recorded demos for songwriters before signing with Epic to release his debut album, “A Thousand Winding Roads,” in 1990.

Diffie had five #1 country hits, including “Home,” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Pickup Man” and “Bigger Than The Beatles.” He recorded 13 studio albums, including two that went platinum: “Honky Tonk Attitude” (which featured the single “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)”) and “Third Rock From the Sun.”

Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993, Diffie shared a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others for the 1998 song “Same Old Train.”

Singer Carrie Underwood tweeted, “Absolutely no words for the loss of Joe Diffie. The music and legacy he leaves behind are legendary.”

Alan Merrill, “I Love Rock and Roll” songwriter

Alan Merrill


Alan Merrill, who co-wrote the song “I Love Rock and Roll” that became a signature hit for fellow rocker Joan Jett, died March 29 in New York of complications from the coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 69.

“I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen,” his daughter Laura Merrill wrote on Facebook. “I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.”

Bassey Offiong, student

Bassey Offiong

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity

Bassey Offiong died from coronavirus on March 29 at the age of 25.

The chemical engineering student died weeks before he was expected to graduate from Western Michigan University. He dreamed of launching an organic makeup line.

His friend, Marshall Killgore, said Offiong was a “faith mentor” and a “gentle giant.” He said Offiong had been active in several on-campus communities, including support groups for black men and “men against domestic violence and rape and other forms of violence towards women.”

“In my eyes he was the epitome of what a successful, hard-working and driven young black man was,” Killgore said. “It pained me to hear the news of such a beacon of hope and joy for our community to go out so soon.”

Offiong’s friend Mateo said, “Whether it be a word of encouragement or advice, he was always there.”

His sister, Asari Offiong, told the Detroit News that her brother had no known prior health issues, and that he told her he had been turned down for a COVID-19 test three times before being hospitalized and put on a ventilator.

William Wolf, former Drama Desk president

William Wolf, left, president of the Drama Desk, displays his organization’s award after actors Mary-Louise Parker, center, and Tony Roberts, right, read the nominations for the 49th Annual Drama Desk Awards for New York theater productions in New York Thursday April 29, 2004.


Former Drama Desk president and longtime film critic William Wolf died of complications related to the coronavirus on March 28. He was 94.

Born in New Jersey, Wolf graduated from Rutgers University before going on to work as a journalist in the U.S. and Europe.

Wolf worked as a film critic for Cue and New York Magazine, and went on to serve a four-year term as president of the Drama Desk, an organization of theater critics and writers founded in 1955. He also had a two-year stint on its nominating committee prior to his term, and another two-year stint as chair of the New York Film Critics Circle.

His interviews with show business icons such as Charlie Chaplin are memorialized in the William Wolf Film and Theater Interview Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Wolf is survived by his wife, two daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

William Helmreich, sociology professor

Bill Helmreich has traversed 6,048 miles in all five boroughs on foot, as documented in his book, “The New York Nobody Knows.”

CBS News

William Helmreich, a professor of sociology at City College and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, died from the coronavirus on March 28 at age 74. He wrote about the streets of New York City through his own particular experience: walking almost every street, nearly 125,000 blocks, from the best-known to the most remote, from the most affluent to the most distressed. He listened to stories from locals and uncovered a unique history of Gotham. Over four years, through all four seasons and in all kinds of weather, he walked 6,048 miles, wearing out nine pairs of shoes in the process.

The idea for Helmreich’s 2013 book “The New York Nobody Knows” (one of nearly 20 he wrote) came from a game he’d played as a boy, in which he and his father would hop the subway near their Manhattan apartment and ride it until the end of the line, then wander the city from there.

“If I could say anything about this city that sums it up, it’s that it’s the greatest outdoor museum in the world, ” he told “Sunday Morning” in 2016.

Freda Ocran, nurse

Lives to Remember: Nurse Freda Ocran

Freda Ocran was a former head nurse and nurse educator at Jacobi Medical Center in New York City. She died of the coronavirus on March 28 at the age of 50.

As the coronavirus spread, Ocran posted a picture of herself on Facebook with the words, “I can’t stay home … I’m a health care worker.” Four days later, she was admitted to the hospital.

Her husband of 30 years, Joseph, said they came to the United States from Ghana together. She worked while he got his nursing degree. Then, he helped her go to school to become a nurse. “She’s my everything,” he said, “My wife, my friend, my advisor.”

“My mom was a pretty awesome person,” Kwame, the oldest of their three children, said. “She gave herself undoubtedly to the church, to her work and to her kids. Anything you could say about a saint you could say about mom.”

Araceli Buendia Ilagan, ICU nurse

Araceli Buendia Ilagan

CBS Miami

Araceli Buendia Ilagan, an intensive care unit nurse in Miami who was on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, died March 27 from the illness, CBS Miami reports. She was 63.

Buendia Ilagan had worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital for nearly 33 years, the hospital said.

In a tribute posted on Facebook, her brother Roy Buendia wrote, “My dearest sister, we admired you for your dedication on your profession. We are very, very proud of you. You’re a true ‘Hero’ in this fight against Covid-19.”

Josh Wallwork, costumer

Lives to Remember: Costumer Josh Wallwork

Josh Wallwork, a beloved costumer for shows like “Madam Secretary” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” passed away March 26 from complications of COVID-19. He was 45.

“Heartbroken we are,” “Law and Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay wrote on Twitter. “I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face.”

Wallwork was also a photographer and had a side business making Renaissance costumes with the three sewing machines he kept in his apartment. He loved Renaissance fairs and made his own costume for a Christmas party he threw with his partner, Abdul Qadir.

Mark Blum, “Succession” and “Law & Order” actor

Actor Mark Blum attends the Roundabout Theater 2005 Spring Gala at Chelsea Piers in New York City.


Veteran actor Mark Blum died March 25 at age 69 after suffering complications from the coronavirus. He was known for his roles in the television shows “Succession” and “Law & Order” as well as movies such as “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “Crocodile Dundee.”

Madonna, Blum’s co-star in “Desperately Seeking Susan,” honored him in a heartfelt Instagram post after learning of his death.

“I Want to Acknowledge the Passing of a remarkable Human, fellow actor and friend Mark Blum, who succumbed to Coronavirus,” the pop star wrote. “This is really tragic and my heart goes out to him, his family and his loved ones. I remember him as funny warm, loving .and professional when we made Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985!!”

Floyd Cardoz, “Top Chef Masters” winner

Floyd Cardoz
This Aug. 4, 2014 file photo shows chef Floyd Cardoz at “The Hundred-Foot Journey” premiere in New York.

Charles Sykes

Chef Floyd Cardoz, who competed on “Top Chef,” won “Top Chef Masters” and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York, died March 25 of complications from the coronavirus, his company said in a statement. He was 59.

Cardoz was a committed advocate for sustainability in the food industry. He said during a 2017 appearance on “CBS This Morning” that he planned on becoming a doctor before his love of food took him to Switzerland and New York City.

The celebrated Indian-American chef was mourned by the global culinary community. Fellow former “Top Chef Masters” competitor Suvir Saran tweeted that Cardoz was a “great chef” and a “rare human.”

Freddy Rodriguez, Sr., jazz saxophonist

Freddy Rodriguez, Sr.

Ernie Leyba Photography

Freddy Rodriguez, Sr., a well-known saxophonist in Denver’s jazz scene, died on March 25 from complications from COVID-19. He was 89.

Rodriguez was a regular at clubs like El Chapultepec, where he had a gig for 40 years and was playing up until last month.

His son Freddy, Jr., who was one of his bandmates, said his dad had underlying health issues, but that never stopped him from doing what he loved.

“He had bad kidneys and had a pacemaker put in,” Freddy, Jr. said. “He was really sick for the past few years. He was such a tough, macho guy and lover of music that we didn’t even realize how sick he was.”

Freddy, Jr., said his dad was “a great man, full of energy and loved life.”

Manu Dibango, saxophonist

FILE PHOTO: Camoroonese musician Manu Dibango plays his saxaphone during French designer Sorbier's Spring/Summer..
The influential Cameroon-born musician Manu Dibango (December 12, 1933-March 24, 2020) was famed for “Soul Makossa” (1972), what some have described as the first disco record.


The influential Cameroon-born musician Manu Dibango died March 24 at age 86 from the coronavirus. Dibango was famed for “Soul Makossa,” released in 1972, which some have described as the first disco record. His music fused African rhythms with jazz, soul, funk, rumba, disco and hip hop, and internationalized the music of Africa while inspiring many other major artists during a career that lasted more than six decades.

Dibango, whose nickname was “Pappy Groove,” was primarily known as a saxophonist, though he also played piano and vibraphone. He recorded more than 40 albums, and recorded and toured with such artists as Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Sinead O’Connor, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Upon news of Dibango’s passing, composer and music producer Quincy Jones tweeted, “His contributions to music as we know it today are unparalleled, & it absolutely breaks my heart to hear about this tremendous loss. Soul Makossa my brother!! Thank U for your music & your light.”

Terrence McNally, playwright

Terrence McNally and Tom Kirdahy
Terrence McNally at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2019, in New York City.


Playwright Terrence McNally died of complications from the coronavirus on March 24. McNally, a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic inflammatory lung disease, was 81.

McNally won four Tony Awards during a career crafting plays and musicals that explored love, creativity and homophobia. The writer tackled the themes of family, war and relationships with empathy and wit.

His early successes included the “The Ritz,” a farce set in a gay bathhouse, the romance “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” and “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” a landmark play about AIDS that focuses on two married couples who spend a weekend on Fire Island. He won his first Tony for the 1992 musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” which he followed with his Tony-winning play “Love! Valour! Compassion!”

McNally’s love of opera informed such works as the Tony-winning “Master Class,” which explored the life of opera diva Maria Callas. He also contributed librettos to operas, and wrote the books for several stage musical adaptations of movies, including “The Full Monty,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “Anastasia” and “Ragtime.”

Last year, as he accepted a lifetime achievement Tony Award, McNally said, “The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what truth and beauty and kindness really are.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” said he was “heartbroken” over the loss of McNally, whom he called “a giant in our world, who straddled plays and musicals deftly. Grateful for his staggering body of work and his unfailing kindness.”

Jonathan Parnell, police captain

Lives to Remember: Detroit police captain Jonathan Parnell

Detroit Police Captain Jonathan Parnell died from the coronavirus on March 24. He was 50. The 31-year veteran of the department worked for the homicide squad. “He lived this job and he loved every minute of it,” his friend Lieutenant Mark Young said.

The captain had three sons. When two of them, Jonathan Jr. and Jeremy, graduated Michigan State, Parnell returned to college himself to get his Bachelor’s degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

“He pushed us, and then we pushed him,” said Jonathan Jr., who also became a police officer at Wayne State University. That made his father especially proud. Police work “meant everything” to Parnell, his son said.

Marlowe Stoudamire, entrepreneur and community leader

Marlowe Stoudamire was a community leader and entrepreneur.

Orlando Bailey

Marlowe Stoudamire, a Detroit business consultant who championed young black professionals he called his “young lions,” died from the coronavirus on March 24 at the age of 43.

Stoudamire “was the type of man who could see you before you saw yourself,” his friend Eric S. Thomas said.

He also was “a cheerleader for Detroit,” said Orlando Bailey, who called Stoudamire a friend and mentor.

Stoudamire founded Roster Detroit, “a platform to amplify black talent in Detroit, to stop the narrative that there isn’t any black talent in Detroit,” Bailey said. “It was his ode to the resiliency of the city, but also to the black professional that felt invisible.”

Dick Ottaway, reverend and professor

Lives to Remember: Reverend Dick Ottaway

Reverend Richard “Dick” Ottaway, a retired Episcopal minister, died on March 23 from COVID-19 at 88 years old.

Ottaway was described as a Renaissance man. He was religious about reading his newspapers every morning and feeding the wild birds he loved to watch around his Massachusetts home.

“He was an intellectual,” his stepson-in-law J.T. Rogers said, “erudite, knew about food and wine and the Bible.”

Ottaway grew up in rural North Carolina and was the first in his family to go to college.

He became a chaplain at Wake Forest University and was a professor of business ethics in England, where he met his wife, Elaine.

Their home on Cape Cod was a gathering place, open for everyone, Ottaway’s stepdaughter Rebecca Ashley said.

The family did not get to say goodbye to Ottoway in the hospital. “For a minister, who ministered to so many people in their last hours, not to be with him (was) really hard,” Ashley said.

Jazmond Dixon, American Red Cross employee

Jazmond Dixon received her MBA from Lindenwood University last year.

Belafae Johnson Jr.

Jazmond Dixon, known for her huge smile, died from the coronavirus at 31 years old on March 22.

Dixon worked at the American Red Cross in St. Louis and had just completed her master’s degree in business administration at Lindenwood University last year. She dreamed of owning her own baking business, her cousin, Belafae Johnson Jr., said.

“Jazmond was intelligent, hardworking, dedicated,” Johnson said. “She worked a full-time job and completed her education.”

Dixon also loved making caramel cake for her family, Johnson said. In February, when some family members couldn’t make her birthday party, she drove around delivering cake to them.

Judy Wilson-Griffin, nurse

Judy Wilson-Griffin

Wilson-Griffin family

Judy Wilson-Griffin, a nurse in St. Louis, died from complications of the coronavirus on March 20. She was 63.

Wilson-Griffin always knew she wanted to be a nurse. “As a girl, I would bandage up my Barbie dolls and all the dolls of my friends and one day I knew that I would grow up to help people,” she said in a speech at a leadership conference in 2014.

She was a nurse with the Navy in the Gulf War and, at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, she handled high-risk pregnancies. She won a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award last year.

“Judy was the person we’d be looking to now,” said Pam Lesser, her supervisor and friend. “A very giving, kind, caring soul.”

Oliver Stokes, Jr., bounce DJ

Oliver Stokes, Jr.

Stokes family

Oliver Stokes, Jr., who was better known in New Orleans as GO DJ Black n Mild, died from the coronavirus on March 19. He was 44.

Stokes was a DJ for more than 20 years, his wife, Cassandra, said. He was also a radio personality who brought New Orleans bounce music to his radio shows.

A father of four, Stokes also coached football at a charter school.

“He would literally give you the last dollar in his pocket,” Cassandra said. He died four days shy of their second wedding anniversary.

John Knox, fire marshal

Lives to Remember: Fire Marshal John Knox

New York City Fire Marshal John Knox died of COVID-19 on March 16 at the age of 84.

Knox, who founded the Fire Marshals Benevolent Association, investigated hundreds of fires in the 70s and 80s with the FDNY. After 9/11, he came out of retirement to help dig through the rubble at ground zero, work that would damage his lungs.

Knox also was a combat engineer with the Marines in Korea and had a brief stint in the New York City Police Department before joining the fire department in 1960.

He was “100% about integrity,” said Zach Knox, the third of his father’s four children. He “wouldn’t do anything for his own career at the risk of his men.”

Knox always wore a gold-embossed fire marshal’s ring given to him after 30 years of service. Even in the hospital, he didn’t want to take it off.

Sundee Rutter, mother of six and breast cancer survivor

Sundee Rutter always put her six children first, her oldest daughter said.

Alexis Rutter

Sundee Rutter, a mom of six and breast cancer survivor, died of complications from the coronavirus on March 16. She was 42.

Rutter, from Everett, Washington, “went above and beyond” for her kids, her oldest daughter Alexis said. After their dad died in 2012, Rutter went to college, while working a job, and still ferried her children to sporting events and took them on special trips.

Diagnosed with breast cancer last year, Rutter battled through chemotherapy, had a double mastectomy and was going to have reconstructive surgery this summer.

“She never let things hold her back,” Alexis said. “Even though she had been through some crazy stuff she also showed us how to be positive.”

Alexis called her mom “a light” and said she was “someone you don’t come in contact with much. A super empathetic and unique person.”

CBS News will continue sharing stories of the lives lost to coronavirus. If you want to tell us about someone you lost to the virus, email us at A reporter or producer may contact you.

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