The toll from the coronavirus pandemic grows and grows, even as vaccines are injected into a widening circle of prioritized recipients.
The numbers numb the brain, so incomprehensibly unjust is the daily tally, so staggering the total from the lost year of 2020. The struggle for context forces an attempt at inadequate comparisons.
More than 1.8 million people have died of COVID-19 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which would be equivalent to wiping out the population of Budapest or Montreal. More than 340,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States, which is nearly the population of the city of New Orleans.
In the U.S., which contains 4 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 20 percent of the deaths, another 193,000 Americans could die over the next two months, according to projections from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, pushing the total toward the number of U.S. military personnel killed in World Wars I and II.
On Wednesday, daily COVID deaths in the U.S. reached a record high at 3,744, which is more than the number of people who died in the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, more than the capacity of 10 large passenger planes and more than the combined average daily mortality rate for heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the nation.
“We very well might see a post-seasonal — in the sense of Christmas, New Year’s — surge,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN while talking about December, the deadliest month of the pandemic so far. “When you’re dealing with a baseline of 200,000 new cases a day and about 2,000 deaths per day, with the hospitalizations over 120,000, we are really at a very critical point. As we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse.”
Florida has recorded 21,857 deaths as of Wednesday, with 4,169 in Miami-Dade County.
To hear the stories behind the statistics is to understand just how cruel coronavirus has been to its victims and their loved ones. Lives stolen by an invisible stalker, often ended in isolation.
“It’s so frightening to die alone, and for the survivors, then even grieving is distorted,” said Mindy Cassel, psychologist, thanatologist and co-founder and senior adviser at the Children’s Bereavement Center in Miami. “People are being denied the final moments together to say goodbye as well as the togetherness of mourning and funerals, which are not for the dead but for the living to lend emotional support and express what that person meant to them.
“There have been many layers of despair in 2020 — over elections, over the Black Lives Matter movement, over the mismanagement of the pandemic and the deaths resulting from it. You never get over the death of a loved one; you adapt and continue to live with that person in a new way without physical proximity. Group support is vital. Every ritual around the world revolves around the need to be together after a loss, and that has been prohibited.”
COVID-19 is like an open wound that requires constant re-bandaging, said Daniel Sheridan, a psychologist and clinical director at the bereavement center.
“Think about all the secondary losses: Weddings, graduations, holidays, reunions, wakes, lost jobs, lost school experiences,” he said. “We lose a family member or a friend and we have nowhere to anchor ourselves. Because this pandemic is all about separation and distancing, the traditions that enable us to celebrate legacies are forbidden, or limited. Grief is compounded when you think your loved one has been forgotten.”
The lives they lived, no matter how glorious or humble, should be remembered. Every number represents a person. Here is a sampling of their stories.
Coming from Cuba, he lived the American dream
When Fidel Castro came to power, Miguel Gomez left Havana with $5 in his pocket, arrived in Miami Beach and got a job at the Fontainebleau Hotel. As a waiter in the Gigi Room during its 1960s heyday, he served Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and mafia financier Meyer Lansky.
He later founded and ran Miami Bar Supplies in Hialeah.
“What does the American dream look like? My dad is the perfect example,” said Gomez’s son, Willy.
Gomez died Nov. 19 at age 85 after he and his girlfriend contracted COVID-19 from a caregiver who visited their home to treat Gomez for Parkinson’s disease.
“He was a generous man,” Willy Gomez said. “He brought his entire family to Miami from Cuba. He liked to help out new arrivals with money, food, hospitality. He had only one hobby: Work.”
During his early years in Miami, Gomez was active in the Cuban anti-Castro exile organization MIRR until he had a falling out with its leader, Orlando Bosch.
“Dr. Bosch was my childhood doctor until he began advocating for violent regime change, and that’s when they parted ways,” Willy Gomez said. “My dad never went back to Cuba. He always said it was not the same country he was born in, nor was he about to spend a penny to support the government.”
Willy Gomez, a banker who lives in Davie, is part of a group of six couples who socialized regularly before the pandemic. Three friends in the group lost their fathers to COVID-19, including Miguel Gomez, Isaac Surujon, a retired Mount Sinai Medical Center surgeon, and Frederick Azan, a businessman from Jamaica.
“Being in the middle of this pandemic is surreal, like reading about it in a novel,” said Gomez, a kidney cancer survivor who could not visit his father as he declined. “We’re all hermetically sealed off from one another. We can’t hold hands or hug or share our sadness or exchange the stories of our parents’ generation.
“The degree of separation is lessening. We feel the tentacles moving closer. In April, you knew somebody who knew somebody who died. Now the bedrock of your life is gone. If my dad had avoided COVID for one more month, he could have been vaccinated. It’s a brilliant virus — so contagious but it does not necessarily kill the host, who can be asymptomatic — and this was the last joke on my father: We have a solution but too late for you.”
Gomez said the silver lining from his father’s death is that he and his brother, Miguel Jr., who were never close before, have become confidants.
Miguel Gomez is survived by his two sons, five granddaughters and girlfriend Lina Sanchez. His wife Yolanda died 16 years ago of lung cancer.
Police officer known for his teamwork
Robert Gonzalez was known as a workaholic at the Miami-Dade Police Department. He was dedicated to his job as a supervisor in the Central Records Bureau, where he often worked overtime and holidays or filled in on colleagues’ shifts.
After 28 years, he was close to his goal of early retirement, and his plans included buying one of the sports cars he loved, devoting more time to the gym and traveling to his dream destination of Fiji. He also talked about opening his own insurance agency.
But Gonzalez’s life was cut short at age 56 by the coronavirus. He died Nov. 28 at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
“He had carefully accumulated all this time and built his savings, and now he will never get to cash in,” said Dennis Lugo, a close friend of Gonzalez and a former Miami-Dade police officer.
Gonzalez is survived by his closest living relative, his older brother Ismael. But “Izzy” Gonzalez, 59, who also works for Miami-Dade police, as a courthouse officer, is now critically ill with coronavirus, which he thinks he contracted at work.
He has been on a ventilator at Doctors’ Hospital since Dec. 4, according to Delivette Gonzalez, his ex-wife.
“The brothers were very, very close,” Delivette said. “They were both being careful during the pandemic. It’s unbelievable that both were struck by the virus.”
Robert Gonzalez told Lugo he was certain he caught the virus from a sick co-worker who was coughing in the office.
“Within a few days, he gave me the bad news,” Lugo said. “He said, ‘It’s not looking good for me. I’m here in intensive care with three lung specialists.’ That was hard to hear from Robert. He was not a pessimistic guy. He was a big, strong guy, a gentle giant who was always taking care of other people.”
Gonzalez, who lived in the Fontainebleau neighborhood of Miami, was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, in 1964. He grew up in New Jersey and Miami. He graduated from Coral Park High School, where he played on the football team.
Gonzalez joined the then Metro-Dade Police Department in 1992. He was promoted to supervisor of the micrographics division in 2000, where he was instrumental in modernizing records and implementing a digitized Electronic Document Management System.
“Robert Gonzalez analyzed and streamlined tasks, increasing his unit’s productivity, efficiency, and reducing costs,” Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said in a statement. “He strived to maintain high morale by consistently encouraging teamwork and collaboration. He received numerous commendations, and served for over 28 years, with dedication and professionalism up until his untimely passing.”
Gonzalez adored his nephew and godson David and niece Lynette. He and girlfriend Yanet Perdomo wanted to finally take a long vacation together. Gonzalez drove a Toyota Camry, but was saving up to buy a BMW.
“He liked fast cars, exotic cars — Ferraris, Lambos, Porsches, McLarens, Bentleys,” Lugo said. “We used to go to car shows on the weekends.”
Gonzalez, who was 6-2 and weighed about 300 pounds, enjoyed working out at the gym. He was a fan of the Miami Marlins and Dolphins and “Rambo” and other action hero movies.
“He was an easygoing guy, a homebody, a loyal friend,” said Lugo, who first met Gonzalez years ago when he gave him a ticket for a fender bender.
Gonzalez took care of his late parents in his home when they were elderly, Delivette Gonzalez said. He learned how to cook some of his mother’s homemade Cuban dishes, and especially loved her croquetas.
“Robbie had a heart of gold,” Delivette said. “He never had kids of his own but he was crazy about my kids. He was a wonderful uncle. He always wanted to make you laugh. He was a giving person.
“He took such pride in his work, and he was really looking forward to his post-career life.”
Surgeon who loved fine foods and wine
Dr. Charles Monnin led a full life.
The longtime Miami surgeon loved his patients. The culinary expert loved fine wines.
Dr. Charles Monnin
Boundlessly curious, he found the best in people and in food.
Monnin died Dec. 7 at age 99. He is survived by Joanne, his wife of 67 years, son Paul and daughter Maryann.
Monnin, a native of Canton, Ohio, came from a family of doctors, including a Civil War surgeon, and lived for many years in Miami Lakes and for the past 20 in Coral Gables. He practiced at offices in Hialeah and Coral Gables starting in the 1950s, with Joanne, a nurse, often working by his side.
He was instrumental in founding the surgical departments at Baptist, South Miami and Palmetto hospitals, and taught one of the first classes at the University of Miami’s medical school, on anatomy. He ran a free clinic in Bimini and visited on weekends to see patients.
“He enjoyed getting to know people,” Joanne said. “Nurses used to get so mad because he’d be talking to a patient for 15 minutes and he hadn’t even asked what was wrong.”
Monnin did his surgical residency at the Biltmore Hotel when it was a VA hospital. During the Korean War, he was stationed in Pensacola as a Navy flight surgeon.
Monnin created the Florida and Miami chapters of the French culinary society, Confrerie de la Chaine de Rotisseurs. He was a member of the International Wine and Food Society and the Academy of Wines of Bordeaux, and was awarded the Order of Merit Agricole by France’s minister of agriculture. He hosted wine and cheese tasting events and dinners.
Monnin became a gourmet during the years he studied medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, Joanne said.
“He adored Switzerland,” she said. “He made a lot of friends and that’s where he learned about food, wine, cheeses and how to pair them. He learned to appreciate deep, dark reds, Bordeauxs and Burgundies. He liked lamb and roast beef. We went back often to walk the mountain trails.
“But Charles could not boil water. He’d give out recipes to patients, but he never claimed to be a chef. When we entertained at home, I had to learn how to cook the fancy stuff.”
Monnin traveled the globe. He once did a 30-day around-the-world trip including stops in Tokyo, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, Rome and Barcelona. His favorite restaurants were Brasserie Lipp in Zurich and Pascal’s on Ponce in Coral Gables.
Known as a sharp dresser, Monnin bought suits and shoes (one foot was one size larger) during trips to Hong Kong.
A devoted parishioner at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Coral Gables, Monnin liked to watch Westerns and was an avid reader.
“He was always preaching about the importance of education, always encouraging people to better themselves through knowledge,” Joanne said.
Monnin thought he caught the virus during an appointment for an echocardiogram. Six days after his heart test he started coughing.
“I couldn’t see him at all for his final three weeks,” Joanne said. “I don’t even know if they were shaving him. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Nothing. After 67 years together.
“It’s difficult to wrap your brain around this pandemic. On the one hand, it was heartbreaking not to be with him. On the other, I understand that the nurses and doctors can’t have people streaming in and out of the rooms. It’s hard no matter how old you are. We are a whole year into it and we’re not done yet. Not even close.”
He helped set up Fontainebleau conventions
German Amaya was as tireless as he was selfless.
Amaya, 55, died Aug. 7 at Mercy Hospital. He lived in Miami Gardens.
German Amaya, right
He was a banquet houseman at Fontainebleau Miami Beach before the hotel laid him off during its shutdown over the summer.
“You cannot be a banquet houseman and not be an incredibly hard worker,” said Wendi Walsh, secretary/treasurer of the Unite Here Local 35 union that represents 7,000 hotel, casino, stadium and airport concessions workers in South Florida. “He did all the heavy lifting for conventions and meetings. And he was active in the union as a steward for his co-workers, even coming in on his days off or staying late to help his colleagues.”
Amaya was an enthusiastic family man to his five children and wife Glenda. He did most of the cooking, laundry and grocery shopping while Glenda worked long hours running her hair salon in Shenandoah.
“We had plans for a bright future, and all of a sudden he’s gone,” Glenda said. “Our dream was to expand my salon. The kids are not coping well. He spent so much time with them. We liked to go to the beach and take mini road trips exploring South Florida.”
Amaya was a native of El Salvador who immigrated to San Francisco at age 18.
“Eighty percent of our members have lost their jobs because of coronavirus,” Walsh said. “These workers are placed in impossible situations. They lose their income, and in German’s case, his health insurance benefits and his death benefit for his family. And if they go back to work, especially with another surge on the way, they are putting themselves and their families at risk.”
A financier who gave back through music
Andrew Kowalczyk produced a post Hurricane Katrina relief album for New Orleans musicians. He ran his own investment banking firm, AKCapital. He skydived, practiced yoga and meditation and once owned five race horses.
Kowalczyk died April 6 at Coral Gables Hospital. He was 63.
Andrew Kowalczyk, left, with Tiger Woods.
Kowalczyk was raised in Westfield, New Jersey. He split time between New York and Doral, where he lived with his wife of 27 years, Elizabeth.
“We were lucky to have a wonderful marriage,” she said. “He was one of those amazing guys with a huge heart.”
As a young man, Kowalczyk was lead singer of the Cadillac Rock Band. He released two albums, “Just Bad Enough” and “Rock & Roll Appetite.” In 2006, he was executive producer for “Sing Me Back Home,” by the New Orleans Social Club, featuring artists Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Trombone Shorty and the Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue. The proceeds of the album helped musicians devastated by the hurricane.
Kowalczyk was involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Wings over Wall Street event and the Wounded Warrior Project.
He spent two weeks on a ventilator before he died, said Elizabeth, who lamented being unable to visit him in the hospital. His condition was aggravated because he had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a slow-progressing disease that can affect blood and bone marrow but had been dormant in him.
He is survived by his wife, parents and two sisters.
A teacher in Cuba who touched many
Marjorie Winafred Lord was a dedicated teacher and a translator for the FBI during World War II.
She died April 4 at age 97 after contracting COVID-19 at the nursing home where she lived.
Marjorie Winafred Lord
Lord was born in 1922 in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Banes, Cuba, where her father worked as superintendent of railroads for the United Fruit Company. She studied at the University of Havana and New York University. She worked for the FBI in New York City and Washington, D.C., as a Spanish-English translator.
After the war, she returned to Cuba to teach elementary school, and she also taught English to the townspeople. In 1952, she married John Frederick Lord, who was agricultural superintendent of sugarcane operations at the United Fruit Company. They had two daughters, Maureen and Martha, and two sons, John and Peter. The family moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1960.
Lord, who lived in Miami Shores, is survived by her children, seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and 13 nieces and nephews.
She loved fishing in the Everglades
Leona Moten-Scott marked her 100th birthday with one of her favorite pastimes: Fishing in the Everglades. Family members came from Georgia, Texas and California to celebrate the milestone and the woman behind it.
Leona Moten-Scott fishing near the Everglades on her 100th birthday.
She would have made it to 102, her daughter Carolyn Moore said, if she hadn’t caught COVID-19. Moten-Scott died at 101 on April 5. Born in Fort Meade, Florida, she worked most of her life managing cafes or as a housekeeper. She had four children.
BSO deputy planning his wedding
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett was the first law enforcement officer in Florida to die of COVID-19.
Bennett, a 12-year BSO veteran, died April 3 “in the line of duty,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett
He was 39 and engaged to marry Jonathan Frey this month. He had proposed at Disney World in December 2019.
Bennett, who worked as a resource officer for Deerfield Beach Elementary School, would have been “an amazing father,” Frey told People magazine of their plans to have children.
“This is not the end of who he is,” Frey told WPLG-Local 10. “He was the love of my life, and I know his legacy is going to live on, one way or another.”
A cardiologist who still made house calls
Dr. Eugene “Gene” J. Sayfie, a Miami cardiologist and internist for five decades, was still doing house calls.
Sayfie died May 23 at age 85.
Dr. Eugene Sayfie
“Dad was taking care of everybody,” Stephanie Sayfie-Aagaard said of her father, who was working up until he got sick. “Everybody called him for advice.”
Sayfie had such a strong influence on his patients that his name reverberated throughout South Florida.
“You’re never going to find another individual like Eugene Sayfie in the world. Never, ever, ever, ever,” said Norman Braman, billionaire, art collector, auto magnate, philanthropist, former NFL franchise owner and political activist. Sayfie was his doctor, his parents’ doctor, a friend for 50 years and “a gift from God,” Braman said.
The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine honored Sayfie with its first Distinguished Master Clinician Award and named the Eugene J. Sayfie Pavilion for Excellence in Patient Care after him.
Sayfie, who was born in Charleston, West Virginia, to Lebanese immigrants, measured life by two standards, his family said in his obituary: “The first — whether you enjoyed the journey. And the second — did you make a difference to others along the way? Dr. Sayfie exceeded all measures on both.”
Sayfie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from West Virginia University and was awarded a scholarship to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He completed residencies in internal medicine at the Harvard Medical School Services at Boston City Hospital and at the University Hospital of Cleveland.
Sayfie began practicing in 1960 and held several professorships. He was an attending physician in cardiology and internal medicine at the University of Miami Hospital and School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Aventura Hospital, a member of the courtesy staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital and chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at Miami Heart Institute.
When he wasn’t working, Sayfie cherished spending time with his wife of 51 years, Suzie Sayfie, and his four daughters. When they were younger, he made an effort to attend all their games and events, even if it meant driving straight from the hospital and back again to pull it off.
“The most important thing to him was his family, his faith and his practice,” daughter Lisa Sayfie said. “He was the love of our lives.”
He is survived by his wife, daughters Stephanie Sayfie-Aagaard, who is a freelance society columnist for the Miami Herald, Nicole Sayfie Porcelli, Lisa Sayfie, Amy Sayfie Zichella and nine grandchildren.
Avid baseball fan, chef who helped people with addictions
Two beloved Key West residents died two days apart. Ronald David Sweeting, 56, a true “Conch” native, and Kevin White, 55, were the first in Monroe County to die of COVID-19.
Sweeting died on April 4. He worked at a New Town liquor store and was an avid baseball player until his knees gave out. He kept his place on the field as an umpire. Kept his Marlins season tickets, too.
Ronald David Sweeting
Sweeting’s survivors include two daughters, a son, five grandchildren and his parents.
White, an Arkansas native who moved to Key West in the late 1980s, died on April 2.
White was a chef at the Casa Marina Key West Waldorf Astoria. After retiring, he devoted his time to helping people with addictions in their recovery. White’s survivors include his wife, three children, six grandchildren and sister Vickie Marie White-Hubbert.
A Cuban songstress
Rosa Zamanillo never forgot the melodies she loved. She was known for singing beautiful Cuban ballads at the Residential Plaza assisted living facility in Miami.
She died on April 10 at age 90, her son Jorge Zamanillo said.
Rosa Zaminillo and her son, Jorge
Zamanillo, who is executive director of HistoryMiami Museum, said his mother’s dementia took many of her memories, but not the songs from her childhood in Cuba. She also enjoyed painting.
She was the eldest of eight siblings. In the diaspora, the family split in half. Some came to the United States on the Freedom Flights of 1966, while the rest (including her mother) stayed in Cuba.
Zamanillo and her husband, the sculptor Jose Zamanillo, raised five children in Miami.
Poker buddies die within days
Eight retirees became best friends over poker games at an Aventura condo.
On March 12, the inseparable group played their last cards.
Frederick Sands, 86, died of COVID-19 in a Hollywood hospital on March 27.
A day later Marcia Friedman, 94, died of COVID-19 and pneumonia in Aventura. Beverly Glass, 84, Sands’ partner of over 20 years, died of COVID-19 on March 31.
Their five other poker friends were also diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Glass and Sands managed to stay together until the end. Glass’ daughter Lori Helitzer persuaded Memorial Regional Hospital to place the couple in the same room. A nurse let her know they were holding hands.
Beverly Glass and Frederick Sands, longtime partners and Aventura poker buddies, died within days of each other.
“So sad. So many losses,” Helitzer told the Herald. “Stay safe. I lost two loved ones in a week.”
Seminole Tribe fire chief
Donald DiPetrillo, fire chief for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, spent his life in public service protecting others. He died April 30 at age 70 at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, the tribe said.
He likely contracted the virus at an EMS conference in Tampa in early March. Miami-Dade County and Miami firefighters were quarantined after attending the same event.
DiPetrillo, who lived in Davie, graduated from McArthur High School in 1967. He received his associate’s degree in fire science from Broward College and graduated from Barry University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration.
He joined the Navy in 1971 and served on board the U.S.S. Wasp. From 1973 until 2001, he was with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department, working as lifeguard in his early years there. DiPetrillo was Davie’s fire chief and emergency management director from 2001 through 2007.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony called DiPetrillo “a true public safety icon in the South Florida fire community for nearly half a century.”
“Chief DiPetrillo understood that success in life was about just being nice. If you care for people, the rest takes care of itself,” said William Latchford, executive director of public safety for the Seminole Tribe. “His care, commitment, and leadership for over 50 years helped shape the future of the fire service, not only within the Seminole Tribe, but also in the state of Florida.”
DiPetrillo’s survivors include his mother, Joan, and son, Tyson, of Davie, two brothers, David and John, and Lindy Maracic, his girlfriend.
He celebrated birthdays with gusto
Luis Alpiste was the kind of guy who’d wake his kids up to celebrate with a cake the moment the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on their birthdays.
“He was always more excited than the people whose birthday it was,” his daughter Erika Alpiste said.
Alpiste had his daughters put on a fashion show every year with their new school clothes. He doted on his grandchildren. He loved chocolate and “Law and Order” reruns and big, boisterous family gatherings.
He died on March 24 of COVID-19 at age 79, the second official COVID-19 death in Miami-Dade.
Alpiste was born in Peru, one of 18 children. He raised four kids in Miami with wife Jenny. He was a construction worker.
“I just remember driving around with him and he’d say ‘See that building? I helped build it,’” Erika said. “He was so proud.”
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Jenny, children Johnny, Dianne, Erika and Jennifer, son-in-law Christopher, and grandchildren Liam and Ellie.
Prominent people who died across the U.S.
Charley Pride, one of the first Black performers to break through in the country music scene, died at age 86. He was born in Sledge, Mississippi, a sharecropper’s son.
Charley Pride performs during his October 2000 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame at the Country Music Association Awards show at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. Pride, 86, died Dec. 12, 2020, in Dallas of complications from COVID-19.
Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and star of the Miracle Mets, died from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. He was 75.
New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver poses for a photo in March 1968. Seaver, 75, died from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19.
Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2012, was 74.
Herman Cain addresses the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in May, 2014.
Broadway star Nick Cordero was 41.
Actor Nick Cordero attends the April 2014 after party for the opening night of “Bullets Over Broadway” in New York.
Henry Grimes, jazz bassist, was 84.
John Prine, revered folk and country songwriter, died at the age of 73.
John Prine performs at the Americana Honors & Awards show on Sept. 11, 2019, in Nashville. Prine died April 7, 2020, from complications of the coronavirus. He was 73.
Ellis Marsalis Jr., New Orleans jazz legend and father of Wynton and Branford Marsalis, died at age 85.
Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans in 2019.
Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, died at the age of 81.
Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally in front of the Philadelphia Theater Company in Philadelphia in 2006. McNally, one of America’s great playwrights whose prolific career included winning Tony Awards for the plays “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class” and the musicals “Ragtime” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died March 24, 2020, of complications from the coronavirus. He was 81.
Tom Dempsey, New Orleans Saints kicker who was born without toes on his right foot and wore a flat shoe for kicking field goals, died on April 4.
New Orleans Saint Tom Dempsey poses for a photo in 2005 in Harahan, La. Dempsey died April 4, 2020, while struggling with complications from the coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 73 years old.
Spanish bullfighter Manolo Navarro died at age 93.
Carol Sutton, actress who has starred on HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar” and appeared in such films as “Monster’s Ball,” “Ray” and “The Help,” died at age 76.
American rock musician Alan Merrill, best known for co-writing and recording the original version of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” was 69.
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, White House butler to 11 presidents, was 91.
Toots Hibbert, founder and lead singer of Toots and the Maytals, was 77.
Trini Lopez, the singer of “If I Had a Hammer” and an actor in “The Dirty Dozen,” died at age 83.
Singer and actor Trini Lopez poses in Dallas on Jan. 1, 2002.
Dawn Wells, who starred as the girl-next-door Mary Ann in the 1960s hit TV show “Gilligan’s Island,” died at age 82.
Actress Dawn Wells arrives at the TV Land Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2008. Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island, died Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, of causes related to COVID-19, her publicist said.
U.S. Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, a Republican from Louisiana, died Tuesday, days before he was to be sworn in. He was 41.
Luke Letlow, R-Start, chief of staff to exiting U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, speaks on July 22, 2020, after signing up to run for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District in Baton Rouge, La.
Miami Herald reporters Howard Cohen, Alex Harris, David Ovalle, Mary Ellen Klas, Carol Marbin-Miller, Taylor Dolven, Michelle Marchante, Gwen Filosa, David Goodhue, Carli Teproff and Martin Vassolo contributed to this report.