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Elegies for those lost to coronavirus

They came from all walks of life — a priest, a probation officer, a former Red Sox recruit, a Spanish-language radio host, and so many more — and they all left behind both a legacy and people who loved them. Coronavirus has brought sorrow to every corner of the state, while cruelly preventing the bereaved from mourning together. As the Massachusetts death toll continues to rise, the Globe is remembering the victims as unique individuals, memorializing them more for how they lived than how they died.

We aim to profile as many Mass. coronavirus victims as possible. If you’ve lost a loved one to the virus, please reach out and tell us about them.

Frank Archibald, 84: A master craftsman who built his own house


Photograph of Frank Archibald

Not many people can say they built their own house, and even fewer raised a family in such a house and lived most of their life there. But not many people were as skillful at construction as Frank Archibald, who built his family home in Weymouth for just over $10,000 in 1961.

Frank’s daughter Nancy said he lived his life with a do-it-yourself attitude, an approach that led him start his own construction company with his brother. Frank died April 16 from COVID-19. He was 84.

The ranch-style dwelling Frank built was home for him and his wife, Barbara, whom he met through a friend and married when he was 22. Together they raised six children.

The house was a bit crowded, with eight residents; it had three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room. But the density made for fun holidays, particularly Christmas, his daughter said. Frank would exercise the cooking skills he learned in the National Guard by making the family breakfast every Sunday.

He was also a committed lottery player and in the 1970s won $50,000 on a season ticket. Most of the money went to a much-desired addition to the house, but each member of the family got a reward, including a dirt bike for one of his sons and a new car for Barbara.

His work ethic served as a model for his kids, particularly his son Frankie, who followed in his footsteps into construction and real estate.

Frank was a soft touch. His quiet and forgiving demeanor meant that if people owed him money, he would rely on mutual trust rather than haranguing them about it, his daughter said. He was a mentor to his son and many carpenters who worked for him through the years.

Frank remained in the family home after retiring in his 60s. True to form, he tinkered and created “nooks” around the house. He constantly worked on creative projects, building and fixing things at his kids’ homes.

One such project involved building a dollhouse for his granddaughter, with assistance from Barbara.

“You would have thought they still had six kids at home,” he was so busy, joked Nancy. He also enjoyed golfing with the Weymouth Elks. He kept up with golf even after having a leg amputated in his 60s.

Most of Frank’s direct family remained very close to their hometown of Weymouth, and they continued to spend time with him in his later years. Nancy would bring him doughnuts and The Boston Globe on Sunday mornings, while another daughter, Sandy, would routinely take him and his grandchildren to Castle Island in South Boston, always concluding the trip with a stop for ice cream.

Frank’s house is remaining in the family for the foreseeable future — his granddaughter purchased the house in the past year.


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Nancy Reid, 97: The family fashionista


Photograph of Nancy Reid

Wherever Nancy Reid went, she went with style.

Known in her family as a fashionista, Nancy would never leave the house without matching outfits and accessories, usually involving the timeless colors of beige, pink, and white.

Kara Agoglia, Nancy’s 21-year-old granddaughter who is in her senior year at Virginia Tech University, said that her grandmother “always cared about her appearance, always dressed to the nines.”

A graduate of the High School of Fashion Industries in New York City, Nancy worked as a designer during World War II and was a talented singer and musician who sang in her church choir and played the piano.

Her love for music and singing ran through her life. Lisa Agoglia, Nancy’s 28-year-old granddaughter, remembered how they sang together everywhere, from church to the car.

“She was obsessed with a Linda Ronstadt album,” Lisa said. “And I knew the songs by heart because we played them to and from anywhere.”

Without a doubt, Nancy’s greatest pride and joy was her family. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a family of four sisters, Nancy grew accustomed to life in a big family.

Later in life, as a mother of three, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of five, Nancy rejoiced in large family reunions.

When the whole family didn’t get together, there were still times when Nancy would get to see some of her loved ones. Her granddaughters reminisced about the times they spent at her house in Florida.

“We used to take turns sleeping at Grandma’s house,” Lisa Agoglia said. “We’d see her maybe one, two, three times a year.”

Trips to Nancy’s house were always memorable. The youngest grandchild, Kara Agoglia, said her visits always featured cinnamon rolls and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” although Nancy would always get upset by clips where babies might have gotten hurt.

When her family wasn’t together, Nancy surrounded herself with pictures of her loved ones, and she always found little ways to show her love. She couldn’t end a phone call without saying “I love you,” or walk down the street without linking her arm to her companion’s.

“She just always wanted you to know that she loved whoever she was talking to,” Kara said.

For the last 10 years of her life, Nancy always said “I love you” because she didn’t know when she’d be able to say it again.

Nancy was predeceased by both of her husbands, Henry Agoglia and William Reid.

“You just really felt her love,” said Lisa Agoglia. “Every day could be the last day, and that’s how she lived her life.”

On April 30, Nancy died from COVID-19 at Masconomet Healthcare in Topsfield. She was 97.

She had a gentle way and warmth about her and spent her life spreading love, joy, and laughter, her family said.

“She just always tried to be happy,” Lisa said.


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Francis Hammerbacher, 86: A man who loved to be in the skies


Photograph of Francis Hammerbacher

Francis Hammerbacher loved flying more than anything. He dedicated his life to it.

“That was his passion,” said his daughter and only child, Leigh Lalime. “Every time we were outside and an airplane flew over, he would stop and put his hand up to his forehead so he could see the plane. … He was a good pilot.”

Francis became a certified pilot after serving in the Army in the 1950s and 1960s, stationed primarily in West Germany. He earned his training and certification through the GI bill.

He had purchased and owned a Piper J-3 Cub propeller plane, a model that was mass-produced in World War II, favored by politicians and military leaders alike and used as the primary training aircraft of the Civilian Pilot Training Program. He flew around the country in this plane, traveling to Arizona, California, Florida, and other places.

Decades of flying ignited a desire to see more of the world, both in the sky and on the ground.

He loved talking about traveling. He would tell Leigh about a trip he took to Africa, describing how much fun he had on a train ride there, and also talk about his frequent solo vacations to Florida.

“He went to Florida a lot,” Leigh said. “I guess he liked Florida because even once he went to the nursing home and he started getting confused, he kept thinking he was in Florida.”

Francis, 86, died on May 14 from complications of COVID-19 at the Blaire House of Milford Assisted Living Community.

Some of Leigh’s best memories with her father were when he would take her along on his travels. Leigh was 4 when her parents divorced, so she did not live with Francis but stayed at his house once a week.

“He took me on several trips, without that I wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” she said. “My mother is not a traveler.”

Francis took her to California to visit Disneyland, Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, Florida to go to Disney World, and to Martha’s Vineyard.

Francis could be impatient. When they went to Disney World, her father complained about the lines, and on one of their trips to Martha’s Vineyard, he told her to use the men’s restroom to avoid the line for the women’s.

“He was like ‘just use the men’s, there’s no line,’” Leigh said. “He didn’t like waiting.”

Francis, who was born in Baltimore, grew up an orphan. He lived on a Maryland farm with his foster parents, where “he was more like a farmhand than a son,” according to his daughter.

He graduated from Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Md., in 1953 and attended Hartford Junior College. After the Army, he entered the Army Reserve in Fort Dix, N..J., before being honorably discharged in 1962. Francis then spent 35 years as an office manager for Air Products & Chemicals Inc. in Marlborough.

“He was a good man,” his daughter said. “He did the best he could with me. … He did the best he could with what he knew.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism

George Gaudette, 84: A devoted teacher


Photograph of George Gaudette

George Gaudette of Holyoke loved to teach. In a photograph taken of his class, three words can be read on the blackboard behind him: Fairness. Understanding. Empathy.

“He was definitely somebody that was very empathetic, very understanding, very fair,” said his son, Michael. “Looking back on it now, I would say he definitely treated me in ways like that, which I didn’t understand at the time,”

George, who was born and raised in Southbridge, spent the last 30 years of his professional life teaching criminal justice at Holyoke Community College, a program he designed and created. He loved being a mentor and encouraged police officers to get a college education.

He was also a criminologist, military veteran, and worked in law enforcement.

“Criminology was his first passion, teaching and mentoring was his second,” Michael said.

George obtained two master’s degrees and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“His entire life, except for some breaks here and there, was devoted to education, both for himself and for others,” Michael said. George always had a messy desk full of newspaper clippings and assorted pieces of information — a symbol for his thirst for knowledge.

George died April 16, at 84, of complications from COVID-19. The family was able to visit him at the hospital before he passed.

“He was the epitome of the American man from the 1950s,” said Michael who learned from his father’s old high school yearbooks how well-liked he was. George was voted class president twice and named “most popular.”

After graduating from Michigan State University, he served in the Army as a special agent to the assistant chief of staff for intelligence. He was stationed in West Germany during the Berlin crisis of 1961.

In the 1960s, George met his wife, Micheline, at the University of Connecticut and the two were inseparable. They had two children together, and the family often traveled to Belgium, where Micheline was from. She survives him.

George’s favorite vacation spot was Cape Cod, which he referred to as his “second home.” The family always went to the beach and drive by the Kennedy family’s Hyannis Port compound, a must-see for him. During his time as a military officer, George had the opportunity to drive the legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor from the compound to a small airport in Cape Cod, a memory he cherished.

In another remarkable situation, George met John E. Douglas, one of the first criminal profilers, at the FBI facility in Quantico, Va. George would later encourage his children to read Douglas’s book, “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit.”

Outside of his job, George had a deep love for horses and dogs. As a young boy, he rode in horseback competitions and had many dogs. His last companion, a German shepherd named Reba, meant the world to him.

He was a loving father and took great pride in his passions and job, Michael said. He was often heard to exclaim, while making a point, “I’m a criminologist!”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Leo Kricorian, 79: A passionate musician


Photograph of Leo Kricorian

Music meant everything to Leo Kricorian, who spent 37 years traveling across the country with the Andy Healy Band.

Standing atop a grand piano, Leo would hold his guitar up in the air and play his heart out on the band’s signature Irish tunes. He would slip off the piano moments later, only to climb back up and continue playing. Moments like these are the ones that make Andy Healy, Leo’s long-time friend and bandmate, laugh out loud.

“That was his whole life, music and playing in the band,” Andy said. “And when we were onstage, he was a character.”

Leo Kricorian, 79, died May 15 of COVID-19. A lifelong Watertown resident, he enjoyed spending time with both his own and Andy’s family.

“He lived a single life, and my family also was his family,” Andy said. “He was Armenian. We’re an Irish family, you know.”

Nancy Kricorian, one of Leo’s nieces, said that Leo preferred to keep his Armenian family and church life separate from his Irish band life. She wishes she’d had the chance to see him perform because he became a recognizable figure in the Irish-American community thanks to his musical talent.

“When I was a toddler he used to play ‘The Twist’ on his guitar, and he sang ‘Come on Nancy, do the twist,’ ” Nancy said via email. “I would dance.”

Her favorite memory about Leo, however, was his skill with a yo-yo. When he was a teenager, he was the junior yo-yo champion of New England, according to Nancy. He would show her how to “walk the dog” and go “around the planet” with his yo-yo.

It was Leo’s fun-loving spirit that made people around him smile. He could always take a joke and was not afraid to give one back.

Andy recalls a time when Leo got them lost while driving back from a gig in Chicago. Andy had fallen asleep in the back of the van, and, when he woke up, they were surrounded by mountains. They were supposed to be heading back to Boston, but they ended up in Pennsylvania. Leo was not great with directions, but he could laugh off moments like that with his friends.

Before joining the Andy Healy Band, Leo wrote and recorded several songs under the name Leo Scott. He was also the frontman for the bands Leo and the Thunderbirds and Leo and the Rhythm Rockers.

Leo documented every gig the Andy Healy Band played, where they traveled, and how many people attended. He had a few sales jobs here and there, but it was music that kept him going. He also taught guitar.

Dedication does not even begin to describe Leo. According to Andy, he never missed a single rehearsal or gig since he joined the band in the 1970s. He was always the first one there, ready to work. His love for his craft was evident.

“He always used to meet me here in my house. If I told Leo to be here at six minutes past the hour, Leo would arrive at six minutes past the hour,” Andy said. “He was never late and never missed a gig, and I will always remember him for that.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Lillian ‘Lita’ Siagel, 89: A creative mind with a wealth of knowledge


Photograph of Lillian ‘Lita’ Siagel

Lillian “Lita” Siagel’s career was focused on floral design, but she found beauty in everything she did.

“She painted her alpine boots pink 40 years ago,” said Errin Siagel, Lita’s youngest son. “She painted the toilet seat in our house when I was 5. She glued rhinestones on her sunglasses. She was just one of these crazy artistic people.”

Lita died on May 13, five days shy of her 90th birthday from complications of COVID-19. After taking a bad fall in March, she started a rehabilitation treatment at an assisted living facility in Cambridge’s Neville Center at Fresh Pond, where she contracted the coronavirus.

Lita had a sharp mind and was an avid reader, poring over works of fiction, nonfiction, and even Russian poetry. A well-read, knowledgeable woman, she was a passionate learner and discussed everything from history to politics to music. She had a love for meaningful conversations.

“My niece said to her once, ‘Grammy, silence is golden,’ ” Errin said. “And my mother said, ‘Yes, but conversation is platinum.’ ”

When inspiration struck, she wrote poems of her own, capturing memories in verse and giving them to her children. She had terrible handwriting, Errin said, but she couldn’t stop writing.

For many years, she owned a flower shop, called Tiger Lily, on Stuart Street near Copley Square, where she made arrangements for weddings, events, and even hotel lobbies.

“She was very concerned with style,” said her daughter, Stephanie Bernier. “Her eye for beautiful things and wanting things perfect made her an amazing arranger.”

Lita was born in Shanghai in 1930. By 1949, she fled with her first husband, Van Rogers, and eldest son, Dan, when the Communist government forced them out.

In traveling to various countries, Lita became a very “worldly type of person,” Stephanie said. She was multilingual, fluent in Russian, French, and Italian, among other languages, and she befriended people from all over the world.

She and her husband eventually settled in Brookline. They divorced a few years later, and in 1958 Lita married Harold Siagel. Together, they raised three children and spent most of their lives in Newton.

Lita was an accomplished cook, Errin said. Her culinary skills were limitless — she was famous among family and friends for making her own salad dressing. For Lita, food was an art and a way to show her compassion.

“Cooking was one of the ways she poured her love into family and friends,” and her creativity,” Stephanie said.

Every Christmas, Lita would host elaborate dinner parties where she would invite 50 people into her one-bedroom apartment, Errin said. She would serve trays of hors d’oeuvres on her bed to accommodate the guests.

“She would invite every single person who didn’t have a place to go. She would cook for three days. She would decorate the table,” Errin said. “It was about being together with people and friends. That was what she cared about, that was the most important thing — her family and her friends.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Lucy Louise Davis, 95: ‘Lived her life the way she wanted to live it’

Oak Bluffs

Photograph of Lucy Louise Davis

Family was the most important part of Lucy Louise Davis’s life. She was never happier than when she and her husband would gather everyone at their home on Martha’s Vineyard.

“We would all shove into that little TV room. It was like the size of the bathroom, but we would all be in there as a family, watching Red Sox games,” said Lucy’s granddaughter, Michelle Estime. “It was just like a warm, cozy place to be.”

Lucy and her husband, Jack, were married for 69 years before he died two years ago. Lucy’s daughter, Carolyn Del Guercio, said her parents’ marriage was “something for the rest of us to try and follow in terms of commitment.”

Lucy died on May 9 from complications with COVID-19 that she developed while at a nursing home. She was 95.

The daughter of Italian immigrants, Lucy attended Lowell Teachers College, where she graduated first in her class.

While she was in college, she met Jack Davis, and they fell in love. They stayed in touch while he was stationed overseas in the Navy during World War II, writing to each other for about three years. After she graduated and Jack returned home, they were married on June 26, 1948.

Lucy took pride in everything she did. She spent several years as an elementary school teacher — fifth grade was her favorite — before she went to work as the accountant at her husband’s floral shop in West Roxbury after the birth of their first daughter.

It was a job she loved just as much as teaching, and she and her husband worked at the shop until they reached their 70s and retired.

They sold their house in Jamaica Plain and moved to Martha’s Vineyard. Carolyn described the Vineyard as her mother’s special place, especially when the family came to stay.

“She loved having people come and visit,” said Carolyn.

Lucy saw her life as a blessing and enjoyed every aspect of it, her family said. She loved spending time with her newest great-grandchild, Theodore Estime. His visits always made her days better, her family said.

Throughout her life, Lucy had strong relationships. She had a small, tight-knit group of friends whom she remained close with through her 90s.

Lucy lived a long, happy life with her husband, just as she had wanted. “She had the opportunity to spread so much time with my dad and live her life the way she wanted to live it,” Carolyn said.

As much as she loved her grandchildren, her competitive spirit was always keen. She was a master of crosswords and Scrabble and passed that love down to her grandchildren.

“She would never, like, let us win,” Michelle said. “I always enjoyed playing with her, and now I’m really good at Scrabble as well.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Kenneth R. Dana, 79: Found joy in the world of locomotives


Photograph of Kenneth R. Dana

Although Kenneth R. Dana was a private man, there was one thing he shared with everyone in his life — his love of trains.

Ken found joy immersing himself in the world of locomotives. He attended train shows, traveled by passenger train and, most important, collected N Scale model trains. As a member of the National Model Railroad Association and former president of the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, Ken was heavily involved in the train community.

“Kenny was my travel companion,” said his sister, Dr. Clare Dana, 77, of Jupiter, Fla. They would travel together yearly, with a train trip through Europe and into the mountains of Switzerland being one of the most memorable. Besides his sister, Ken also had a group of friends with whom he would frequently travel.

Ken died on April 19, at 79, at Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Center in Natick. He had Parkinson’s disease and had tested positive for COVID-19.

As a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, Ken grew up in Newton and graduated from Harvard College in 1962, where he was an announcer for WHRB Radio. After that, he took some graduate courses at Columbia University before moving back to Massachusetts.

Over the years he held several jobs, including working at his father’s accounting firm, as executive director at Temple Emanuel and as comptroller at Babson College. For about 10 years, he was a mentor with the Jewish Big Brother Association. He resided in Framingham for several years before moving into the Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Center.

“He had a lot of different talents for all the different jobs he had,” his sister said. “It’s a good thing to be multi-talented.”

Later in his life, Ken turned his hobby into a career, opening Ken’s Trains in Sudbury. Owning the train shop was more than just a job to Ken — it was his way of sharing his passion with his community.

“Ken’s big thing was customer service. It was always about the customer,” said Ken’s longtime friend Gregg Lentoni, 67, of Hopkinton. “He did whatever he could in the best way he could to make sure the customer was always satisfied.”

Over the course of life, he met every person with kindness, Lentoni said. Though he was often quite reserved as an individual, he was always supportive of his friends and family.

Ken cherished his golden retrievers just as much as trains, according to his sister.

“I miss him,” she said. “He was my only sibling, he was my older brother, and he was always there.”

Ken was thoughtful, honest, and had a dry, funny wit, according to his friend and sister.

“I remember he used to pick on me when we were younger,” said Dana with a laugh. “But he was always very helpful.”

Ken’s personality showed in every one of his interactions, from his close friendships to his relationships with his customers, said Lentoni. He always wanted to lend a helping hand by offering them advice.

“He would help people through suggestions. Ken might tap someone on the shoulder and say, ‘You might want to try it this way,’ ” he said. “That is the kind of guy he was.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Marie Clasby, 88: Red Sox fanatic who adored her grandchildren


Photograph of Marie Clasby

Marie Clasby never missed a party or a Red Sox game. So it was no surprise that when the proud matriarch’s grandsons Sean and Bryan planned a VIP Red Sox game experience for her last fall with her closest family members and a couple of family friends, “she had the best day of her life,” said her daughter, Ann Marrese.

After the game, when the limo bus had pulled back to Marie’s residence at the Village at Willow Crossings in Mansfield, “the boys all walked her in and she just thought she was the queen,” Ann said.

Marie was particularly proud of her seven grandchildren — Ann’s two sons, Sean and Bryan, plus her son Robert Jr.’s children, Ryan, Hailey, Christopher, Amelia, and Bella, whom she spent time with regularly each year, even though they were in upstate New York.

“Honest to God,” Ann recalled, “I’m telling you, five minutes before she died, she says to me: ‘Is Sean still going out with the new girl?’ ‘Yes, he is.’ ‘And do you like her?’ ‘I love her, she’s a great kid.’ ‘OK, OK — and she’s a nurse?’ ‘Yeah, she’s a nurse’ ‘I always wanted him to hook up with a nurse.’ ”

Marie died at age 88 at her residence in Mansfield on April 24 of complications from COVID-19. Ann was at her side.

At age 4, Marie, one of four children growing up in Dorchester, lost her mother, creating a special bond with her sister, Phyliss Connolly.

“They would be laughing on the phone,” said Phyliss’s daughter, Luanne Coutoumas, “and I’d always know that my mother was talking to her.”

When their children were young, Marie and her husband, Robert “Bob” Clasby, lived in Randolph, where Marie worked nights at Randy’s shoe factory. When they moved from Randolph to Whitman, Marie began working at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School at the snack bar.

“She always made the biggest ice creams,” said her son Bobby, one of the many in the family to attend Whitman-Hanson during Marie’s tenure. “She was a real people-pleaser.” In her later years, Marie went on to work at Chadwicks clothing store, from which she retired.

Marie’s family made great memories in New Hampshire at Newfound Lake and at Sunset Lake in Braintree. She also enjoyed visiting with her closest friend and Bobby’s godmother, Nancy Locke.

When Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Marie assumed the role of caretaker. Shortly thereafter, her sister Phyliss was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“It must have been heartbreaking,” said Luanne, “because she was losing both of them at the same time.” Marie’s husband and sister died within six months of each other. “It was a double-whammy,” said Bobby. “It was pretty rough.”

“From where she came from and everything that she’s had to go through,” said Ann, “she really was an independent, strong woman.”


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Mary Casso, 96: Beloved cafeteria worker with a zest for life


Photograph of Mary Casso

Most days, Mary Casso could be found chatting away the afternoon at her local McDonald’s in Worcester, her home town.

“I’d drive by there to check on her, and she’d be at somebody else’s table talking to them,” said her son, Rob Lee. “They all knew her, and they all loved her.”

Strangers fell in love with her, and those who loved her never failed to be surprised by her exuberance and thoughtfulness.

Mary died April 19 in UMass Memorial Medical Center of COVID-19-related complications. She was 96.

A determined woman, Mary worked as a cafeteria worker at Worcester Technical High School until she was 90. She enjoyed her job and would often finish her tasks early so she could help younger co-workers.

“All the students loved her,” Rob said. “A few kids didn’t have money, and she would give them things. The other women would say, ‘You’re not supposed to do that,’ but she would say, ‘I’m gonna do that, and if you don’t like it, report me.’ They never did.”

She drove to work each day in a little gray Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car, a testament to the freedom and independence she strived for. She continued driving until she was 95.

When dementia began chipping away at her active lifestyle, Mary filled in the gaps by knitting pocketbooks and scarves for friends and family.

“If she got stopped by the police for speeding a little bit, she’d always talk her way out of it,” Rob said. “And then, she’d hand them a black or navy scarf.”

She had a special attachment to animals and cherished her two dogs, Max and Lily. Her son, Rob, and his husband, Thomas Genduso, now take care of the pair.

“She was so quick at everything, I swear she was hyper,” Rob said. “She could be tough, but only when she wanted to be.”

After the pandemic hit, it was difficult for him to cope with being apart for so long.

“I hadn’t seen her for 21 days, but I called every single day,” Rob said. “And every single day they told me she’s fine. Then one day I called and they said she had a fever.”

Their bond often resembled one of siblings rather than mother and son. She was someone he could laugh with, who taught him how to form true friendships and emphasized the importance of family, above all else.

She was married to the late Robert Lee. At the time of her death, Mary was the last one left of her siblings, whom she had cared for throughout her life. Her close-knit Italian family included her late brothers Joseph and Michael Casso, and late sisters Helen Casso, Carmella Mangiatordi, and Lucretia Wylie.

When her youngest sister and the last of her siblings passed away, she went to pick up the ashes.

“My mother took them to her home, put them on the mantle and said, ‘Bury me with her when I die,’ ” Rob said.

There’s a vacant booth at the McDonald’s now, and the conversation is quieter without Mary’s witty banter.

“My mother had quite a life,” her son said.


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Joseph Leo Bernard, 89: ‘I’ve got to pay it forward’


Photograph of Joseph Leo Bernard

Joseph Leo Bernard found a calling in giving back. to his community —He spent his last 30 years volunteering at food pantries and soup kitchens in Andover to feed the community that supported him when he was a child.

“I’ve got to pay it forward,” Bernard told his only child, Betty Desjardins.

Joseph, 89, died April 6 from COVID-19 at Mary Immaculate nursing home in Lawrence, where he spent the last year and a half of his life.

Growing up in the Great Depression with seven siblings, Joseph and his family received food baskets and an outpouring of assistance from both the town and family members that surrounded them, an experience he never forgot, his relatives said.

After graduating from high school, he served as an Army clerk in the Philippines for four years. Upon returning home, he pumped gas at the Gulf station in downtown Andover, where he met Marie, his wife of 61 years, who was waitressing at nearby Verrette’s Restaurant.

Joseph then worked at the Andover Internal Revenue Service office in Andover, where he was a supervisor, retiring at the age of 56. He then began his second career as a volunteer alongside Marie.

The two volunteered at Bread and Roses, a soup kitchen in Lawrence, preparing and serving meals with their church, St. Augustine’s, on the last Tuesday of each month. Joseph and Marie also served at the Neighbors in Need food pantry, driving cross-county to pick up and distribute donations.

In 1993, the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune recognized Joseph as a “Hometown Hero” for his volunteering efforts.

Feeding others was how Joseph found meaning in life, his daughter Betty said. His desire to serve circled back to his gratitude for those who impacted his life as a child.

Joseph’s selflessness also touched a second community — his own family. His genuine interest in the lives of others was what set her father apart, according to Betty.

“He always saw the best side of people,” she said, recalling only one time in her childhood her father got angry with her.

Betty recalled that when she was growing up, her father filled the house Sunday nights with extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — and served dinner, always taking the time to check up on each person and ask how they were doing.

“That was when he was happiest,” Betty said.

This tradition of hosting family and friends lasted his entire life. At these gatherings, Joseph’s sense of infectious joy was evident. He was known for his remarkable ability to repeatedly do flips from the diving board into their backyard pool, a skill he proudly taught his only grandson, Christopher Dejardins.

Joseph also found fulfillment in helping raise his grandchildren, Christopher and Catherine, with Marie. Betty said while she and her husband, Roger, were busy working, Joseph and Marie always ensured their grandchildren’s needs were taken care of. “They were really another set of parents, more or less, for the kids,” she said.

Whether it was through directly giving back to those who had helped him or by spending time with those he loved most, Joseph touched the lives of all he met with his constant smile and self-giving spirit. “He just loved life,” Betty said.


This story was written in partnership with Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Hannah Rottenberg, 94: Joyful spirit overcame an early life marked by tragedy


Photograph of Hannah Rottenberg

More than 70 years ago at a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War II, Hannah Rottenberg started a library and began to send letters. She tirelessly tried to connect survivors with family members around the globe and responded to a flood of messages from people in desperate search for relatives.

It was a job meant for someone who put great care into everything she did, said her granddaughter, Tara Mathur. It didn’t hurt that Hannah spoke seven languages: Yiddish, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, German, Hebrew, and in time, English.

“She was a woman of valor,” Mathur said. “Who she was throughout every phase of her life was so consistent. She sprinkled a dose of love into every interaction.”

Hannah died April 26 from complications of COVID-19, only two weeks after receiving an official diagnosis. She was 94.

Her memory loss issues did not allow her to fully grasp the severity of her illness. She spent her final days keeping her family company in video chats from the Kaplan Estates, an assisted living facility in Peabody.

Hannah’s childhood was marked by tragedy. Nazis swept through her home — the village of Tuczyn in current-day Ukraine — when she was out of town visiting an aunt. Her Jewish parents and three younger sisters were killed.

A short time later, when she was 16, she trekked through parts of Russia and Germany. When she finally reached the refugee camp, she met and married a young man named Ben, then headed to Boston. They traveled to the United States on a military ship while Hannah was pregnant with her eldest daughter, Estelle. Eventually, they made their way through Ellis Island to Dorchester.

“What’s remarkable about her is that she had this heroic journey, but she didn’t think of it like that. She just thought of it as survival,” Mathur said. “And if you met her when she was alive, you would just meet this very careful, happy person who had a gift for connecting with other people. You wouldn’t think of her as somebody who’s been burdened or who was bitter in any way.”

Her life in America was filled with joy, Mathur said.

She and her husband later ran a rooming house in Brookline, and she was a consummate housewife with a taste for fantastic food. For Shabbat dinners, Hannah would pull out all the stops, featuring traditional Jewish recipes from stuffed cabbage and chopped liver, to brisket, tzimmes, noodle kugel, and mandelbrot.

“If anyone didn’t have somewhere to go for Shabbat dinner, she would invite them to her house,” Mathur said.

The family found community in New England, particularly with a woman from Hannah’s village whom she happened to reconnect with at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The women became inseparable, almost “like sisters after that one unlikely meeting,” Mathur said.

In the 1970s, the couple retired and moved to Florida. Her husband died in 1994, when Hannah was 69.

The Rottenbergs were known for their generosity. They once saved money for months to send a distant family member in Argentina a working refrigerator. It was a “big expense since they weren’t particularly well-to-do,” Mathur said.

Hannah had five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with another on the way. Mathur fondly remembers her playing with her daughters, winning at cards and Rummikub, and dancing away at her Indian wedding.

“Imagine a woman, born in Poland in the 1920s, having all the experiences she did, coming to the US, and everything — and then ending up dancing to bhangra at her granddaughter’s wedding,” said Mathur. “That was the spirit she embodied.”


Orlando Duarte Filho, 66: A father showed his love through food


Photograph of Orlando Duarte Filho

For Orlando Duarte Filho, cooking wasn’t just a hobby. It was a way to show his love.

Orlando wasn’t a big hugger or someone who wore his heart on his sleeve. But if you mentioned you were craving fish stew, he would make it the next day. He knew how everybody liked their steak cooked and would feed them samples with his fingers. And he never sat down to eat until everybody’s plate was full.

“My dad was a man of few words,” said Layza Gonzaga, 29, the youngest of his four daughters. “That’s where I saw and where I felt all his love, was always in the kitchen.”

Orlando and his wife of 40 years, Neide, and their daughters and grandchildren got together almost every Sunday afternoon at Layza’s house in Clinton — Orlando and Neide lived in the basement apartment — and it was usually Orlando doing the cooking. He liked making dishes from his native Brazil: grilled chicken hearts and pork chops; feijoada, a black bean and pork stew; or chicken made with pequi, a citrus- and cheese-flavored fruit.

Sometimes, Orlando would pull out a piece of paper and ask each person to write down their name and rate the food, from 1 to 10. "We would always put a higher number," Layza said, "because it was way, way better than just a number 10."

Orlando also loved to garden. He grew tomatoes and cucumbers and watermelon and squash and jilo, a Brazilian eggplant.

“We didn’t used to buy vegetables in the summer because he had it all,” said Leticia Duarte, Orlando’s second-youngest daughter, who lives in West Boylston.

Orlando, who for many years did maintenance work at the Longfellow Tennis & Health Club in Wayland, and Neide, a house cleaner, hadn’t returned to Brazil since they arrived in the United States 20 years ago.

They had originally planned to stay for just a few years until they had paid off their debts. But this was finally going to be the year they moved back. Orlando had bought some land; Neide had already purchased furniture.

"He loved the idea of having a farm," Leticia said.

But he never got to see it.

In late April, one of Orlando's older daughters started feeling sick with what she thought was allergies. Then other family members started falling ill. In all, 14 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

But it was Orlando, 66, who had been taking immunosuppressant drugs following a kidney transplant a decade ago, who was hit the hardest.

He was put on a ventilator at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and on May 17, the hospital called to say nothing more could be done. It was Sunday, and the family gathered to watch an online Christian Congregation service in Brazil — a tradition they had started earlier in the pandemic, watching separately.

The message was all about eternal life, Leticia said: “It was like it was God’s will that it was time for him to go.”


Richard (67) and Cecilia Kenneally (66): Inseparable through the decades


Photograph of Richard (67) and Cecilia Kenneally (66)

He first spotted her one night nearly 50 years ago at the Braintree 5 Corners Chinese Restaurant, now long gone, where his band was playing for diners and drinkers. The next thing he saw was another guy next to her, trying to chat her up — and she looked completely uninterested.

Leaving his saxophone on stage, he swooped into action, relatives said. He might have asked her to dance, or he might have simply cut in on the conversation. Some of the details have faded over the years.

However it went, they got to talking. He told her his name: Rich Kenneally. Hers, he learned, was CeCe Ford. Hearing that, he cracked a joke — was her dad Henry Ford? Could she get him a car?

“She was like, ‘Yeah. Sure.’ And then that was it. They were together every day for the rest of their lives,” said their daughter Jen Kenneally.

So inconceivable was it that the two could be separated, that when both were hospitalized with the novel coronavirus this spring, Jen asked a nurse if the two could share a room — “which they normally don’t do, but they did for them,” Jen said.

Cecilia died on May 27 due to complications from COVID-19. Her husband and best friend, Richard, died of the virus not long afterward, on July 2.

In the years since their meeting in the mid-70s, Rich and CeCe did nearly everything together. They raised two daughters (Jen and Jess), walked together on their beloved Wollaston Beach, went to school concerts, plays, and Rich’s rock band gigs. They pitched in for the all-out Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day parties that would gather the entire Kenneally clan around the piano at his sister Ann Kenneally-Ryan’s house, singing and playing anything and everything late into the night.

“That’s the way it was. It was Rich and CeCe,” said Ann. “It’s almost like it was one name.”

Just about the only thing they wouldn’t do together was root for the same team on Thanksgiving, when their rival alma maters (Quincy High for her, North Quincy for him) faced off in their annual crosstown football showdown.

On any other day of the year, Rich was all in for both Quincy public high schools, where he oversaw the band program. “Mr. K” was a beloved teacher and mentor who made his band rooms a haven for students, and often stayed in touch with them even after they graduated. Jess and Jen grew up with Friday night band council meetings taking place over pizza in their living room.

“That band room...everybody felt safe there, and everybody felt comfortable,” said student turned family friend Andrew Mauriello. “Everybody was able to be themselves and let down the guards that you grow in high school.”

When Rich’s saxophone was stolen out of his car during Andrew’s high school years, Andrew gathered some classmates to go door to door in downtown Quincy and sell ad space in a school concert program to raise funds to buy Rich a new instrument.

Two decades later, after Rich was diagnosed with cancer, that same crew put on a benefit show at Great Scott in Allston to help the family with the medical bills.

But having the most popular teacher in town for a father wasn’t without its drawbacks — like the time Jen asked out a boy who was in band. “He said he was really flattered, but he didn’t want to date me, because he was worried that it might affect his relationship with my dad!” she said with a laugh.

CeCe was the kind of person who “shops for Christmas all year long,” according to her niece Julie Connolly. The family home was her domain, and the door was nearly always open and ready to welcome company. If she made her meatloaf, a full table of cousins was almost guaranteed.

“She was just the definition of mom. She took care of you, and whoever needed it,” Jess said.

CeCe adored Boston sports; the Red Sox, the Celtics in the ’80s, the Patriots — until Drew Bledsoe was traded.

She later took a job at Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Agency, and she recently had developed an interest in photography. “If she loved something, she loved it 110 percent, and if she didn’t love something, she let you know,” Julie said.

Both Kenneallys had retired not long ago. Rich closed out his formal teaching career at the end of the 2018-19 school year to great fanfare, when the City of Quincy declared June 14th “Rich Kenneally Day”and his students threw him a surprise party. Then, CeCe took her last day at work in December. The two were looking forward to an active retirement full of day trips, jam sessions, and time with their families.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” Ann said. “They didn’t get a chance to even enjoy that time.”

But then, after Rich died, Jess started to hear the same thing from a lot of people. In a way, it makes sense that it happened like this, they told her. They’re together again.

“And it’s true,” Jess said. “It’s still very hard for us to process, but it’s true.”


Bay Thi Huynh (82) , Joseph Vo Van Ngo (85), and Kim Chi Ngo Nguyen (50): A daughter’s loving care


Photograph of Bay Thi Huynh (82) , Joseph Vo Van Ngo (85), and Kim Chi Ngo Nguyen (50)

Kim Chi Ngo Nguyen was a constant presence in her parents’ lives.

As the oldest daughter, Kim Chi took on the traditional Vietnamese role of family caretaker, moving home to Worcester when her mother started exhibiting signs of dementia. Kim Chi cooked and cleaned for her mother and father and accompanied them everywhere, even to Vietnam, where they gave rice to poor families around the country, including in the village they fled 40 years ago.

Kim Chi loved to take pictures — and to jump into the frame of any photo being taken — and nearly every recent photo in her phone was of the three of them.

On May 8, her mother, Bay Thi Huynh, 82, developed a fever and went to the hospital in an ambulance. Her father, Joseph Vo Van Ngo, 85, had a cough and went with her.

Less than a week later, after experiencing difficulty breathing, Kim Chi checked herself into the same hospital, and was able to briefly see her parents through a glass door.

Her mother and father died from COVID-19 complications later that day, less than two hours apart. Five days later, their eldest daughter died of COVID, too.

“I need to go with Grandma and Grandpa so I can be with them and take care of them,” Kim Chi, 50, told her son before she passed away, according to her sister Anna Huynh.

Joseph and Bay grew up in a fishing village on the southeast coast of Vietnam and were arranged to be married in April 1960. They were desperately poor, and when Bay was pregnant with their 11th child, they decided to escape the oppressive Communist regime.

In May 1980, Joseph, Bay, and 40 family members crowded onto a handmade wooden boat — the women and children hidden in the bottom — and glided into the Gulf of Thailand. They were robbed by pirates, then rescued by a Dutch drilling boat that took them to a refugee camp in Thailand. They were soon sent to a camp in the Philippines, and in February 1981, with the help of Catholic Charities USA, they arrived in Worcester.

The couple scrimped and saved and eventually opened a grocery store, the Ha-Tien Marketcq on Main Street, the first of several such Asian stores they operated in the area. The entire family lived together — six sisters sharing a bedroom — and gathered every night to pray and eat dinner. Everyone helped with the stores, and the parents, in turn, helped their grown children with their businesses.

“Whatever it is that all my brothers and sisters chose to do my, parents were there to support,” said Kelly Lam, the youngest sibling. “If it’s can redemption, they would go out there and help you count the cans. If it’s the grocery store, they would drive all the way to Boston to pick up inventory for you. If it’s a video shop where you needed to fix video machines, they would be there to fix the video machines with you.”

Bay and Joseph were devout Catholics and attended church at least twice a day. Even though they didn’t have much money, they dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate. Kelly remembers asking for donations in lieu of gifts for her son’s first birthday, and her father quickly calculated that the $400 she received would buy enough rice to feed 100 families for a month.

“They wouldn’t even spend a penny on themselves,” Anna said. “Every time we give them money to buy something for themselves, they would just save it and go back and give it away.”

Dominic Ngo, the couple’s youngest son, who runs the family’s Binh An Market cq on Green Street, said: “Their life that they lived, they’re like saints to me.”

The children started a charitable foundation in their name to continue their legacy.

Like her parents, Kim Chi, who had three children, ages 33, 30, and 26, was selfless, her siblings said. When the family went on vacations, she would walk straight into the kitchen and start cooking before she unpacked or even looked at the view. Kim Chi was also a caretaker for her siblings. Both times Kelly gave birth, Kim Chi came to her home in Raleigh, N.C., to take care of her for three months. Kim Chi did the same for another sister, and had been planning to do so again in August.

In Vietnamese culture, when a person passes away, the family prays together for seven days. For three people, it would be 21 days. The Ngo-Huynh family and their friends couldn’t gather because of the pandemic, so they started holding prayer sessions over Zoom every day at 5:15 p.m., followed by a Mass said by Father Peter Tam Bui, a Vietnamese priest in Worcester who was like part of the family. And though the 21 days have long since passed, the daily prayer sessions continue.

Joseph and Bay were inseparable their whole lives — always hugging, kissing, holding hands. They shared everything: a cup of coffee, a doughnut. They even liked to wear matching clothes. So it’s comforting that they died together, their children said, and that Kim Chi is still with them.

“They wanted to take her with them because they go everywhere together," Kelly said, "and they would want her to be taken care of as well.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe charity page.



Robert Regan, 72: Made ‘Jeopardy’ look easy


Photograph of Robert Regan

Robert Regan diligently watched “Jeopardy.” Nestled at home, he would easily answer its questions about literature, football, and politics — his three strengths.

He even first bonded with his future wife over the show, which they watched together at Johnny D’s Uptown Music Club in Somerville in the early 1990s.

Robert’s trivia prowess was elevated by his love for reading books and completing The New York Times crossword puzzles (always in pen). Yet he never acted on the suggestions of friends and family, who urged him to audition for “Jeopardy,” said Gianna, his wife of 20 years.

“He was a really good, humble guy and never went on,” she said. “He knew most of the answers. I haven’t been able to watch ‘Jeopardy’ since he passed.”

Robert died April 24, at 72, of complications from COVID-19. The illness ended his 10-month battle with a rare bile duct cancer.

In his final days, Gianna, who then shared his COVID-19 diagnosis, was able to visit her husband at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The nurses there went “above and beyond,” said Gianna, tending to his every need and relaying messages from extended family.

Robert was a Somerville man through and through. Born and raised in the city, he attended Matignon High School in Cambridge, where he was a star basketball and football player.

“People wrote to me and told me ‘he had it all’ in high school,” his wife said. “And that’s a lot of pressure for most people to handle at the age of 18. But he never let it get to him. He never had any attitude.”

He moved only once — to attend Columbia University on a football scholarship. But he quickly found New York City wasn’t for him. Robert enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam war and later graduated from UMass Amherst, with a political science degree. Once in the ’80s, he even took a swing at running for state representative.

Day to day, he worked as the manager at a Verizon store until retirement.

Gianna said her husband’s generous heart and attentive spirit broke through each Christmas. At the annual family gift grabs, all 11 of Robert’s nieces and nephews hoped he would pull their name.

“He loved Christmas,” she said. “He was so invested in getting the perfect present.”

Robert enjoyed life’s simple pleasures. He introduced his wife to the world of opera, which she soon grew to love. He loved eating Bolognese from his favorite spot: Posto in Somerville. And he liked a good cigar.

As his health waned, he stayed away from smoking. But in one final night this spring, Robert puffed away in the company of his wife and son, Matthew.

“We talked for over an hour that night,” Gianna said. “That’s how I want to remember him — doing alright, listening, laughing with us.”


Kimarlee Nguyen, 33: Visceral writer, go-to teacher


Photograph of Kimarlee Nguyen

With friends, family, colleagues, and students, Kimarlee Nguyen was a relentless agent of joy. In her writing, published in The Adroit Journal, Hyphen Magazine, and Drunken Boat, she poured out visceral, complex stories of poverty, discrimination, and deep generational wounds, often drawing on her parents and grandparents’ experiences as refugees fleeing Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

“She once told me that she grew up really angry ... carrying a lot of trauma from that particular legacy,” said her friend Charmaine Chua. “Then, she one day looked at her grandma, who had lived through the Khmer Rouge and was still happy and cheerful. And she said, ‘If my grandma can live through that and be happy, I can too.’ ”

Kimarlee, often called Kim, died on April 5 in Everett from the novel coronavirus. She was 33 years old.

Raised in Revere, she grew up in a close-knit multigenerational family. Even after moving out of state, she often returned home for holidays and long weekends, when the entire clan would gather. Her cousin Tina Yeng, who described her as “the sister I never had,” described Kim’s love for late-night adventures — roaming the beach, getting drinks at Sonic, driving around listening to music with no destination in mind.

She attended Vassar College, where she studied English and played rugby. Later, she moved to New York City, earning a master of fine arts in creative writing at Long Island University Brooklyn while teaching full-time at Brooklyn Latin School, a top public high school.

On the GoFundMe page set up to help Kim’s family cover funeral costs and related expenses, her students — many of them also Asian or Asian-American — described her as “someone I could talk to during my darkest times,” “always full of life,” “more of a friend than a teacher.” She decorated her classroom with twinkling lights, made herself available for students who needed a listening ear, and centered writers of color in her curriculum.

“I think she was the kind of teacher who everyone craves – the person who sees you at one of the most pivotal times of your life,” her friend Charmaine said.

When she wasn’t teaching, she was writing. She primarily wrote short stories, but she had been at work on a novel about a Cambodian-American family in Massachusetts when she died. She sent chapters of the work in progress to friends, including writer Cherry Lou Sy. “The way how she just carves words on the page is really something,” Cherry Lou said.

Cherry Lou, who was Kim’s classmate for a time in the MFA program, described how their peers and even a mentor had tried to pit the two against each other. “[They] would say things to her like ‘aren’t you jealous that there’s another Asian girl in the program?’ ”

Cherry Lou left the program in frustration; undaunted, Kim pursued her friendship, she said. The two eventually became close, and Kim encouraged Cherry (who had shifted her focus to play writing) not to give up on prose fiction.

“As a writer, as a thinker, as a classmate, as a friend, she was never jealous,” Charmaine Chua said. “She would come into a room and be like ‘Aahhh! I love you!’” She would say ‘I love you’ to everyone around the room, and she meant it.”


Jacqueline Drayton (76) and David Drayton (45): ‘They were always tied to the hip’


Photograph of Jacqueline Drayton (76) and David Drayton (45)

Mother and son, a teen victim of gun violence that left him paralyzed, shared an apartment in a Roxbury neighborhood where everyone knew and loved David Drayton, fondly known as Squeaky, and Jacqueline made gumbo so delicious that her family insisted she should charge for it.

Jacqueline Drayton, 76, and David, 45, died of COVID-19 one day apart; Jacqueline on April 14 and David on the 15th.

“They were always tied to the hip,” said Drayton’s youngest son, Michael Soares, 40. “Anytime one goes to the hospital, the other one goes. It’s always been like that.”

As the pandemic took hold, Soares and his brother had a heart-to-heart talk.

“He said, ‘I ain’t never leaving my mother,’ ” Soares said. “He told a couple people that when she was in the hospital. And my mom said the same thing, ‘I’m not leaving my baby; nobody can take care of my baby like I can.’ ”

For 30 years, Jacqueline and David lived in an apartment at the corner of Centre and Gardner streets.

In recent times, Jacqueline had a host of health problems, from diabetes to kidney and heart issues. She mostly stayed home, cooking and taking care of David, Soares said.

David, on the other hand, would be up and dressed, donning a pair of sneakers from his vast collection, and heading out in an electric wheelchair he controlled with his mouth.

“He moved faster than a lot of people who can walk," Soares said.

Because he had such an optimistic spirit, David used to give motivational talks regularly to newly paralyzed patients at Boston Medical Center, his brother said.

David was about 15 when he was shot. Soares was about 11. His memory of the violence remains fuzzy; he knows David was unconscious for two months afterward.

Most vividly, he recalls a fleeting sight of his wounded brother.

“All I know is I ran around the corner, and I can’t even describe seeing your brother on the ground with sirens all around," he said.

After the shooting, David’s energy and resilience never faltered.

He was the type to say: “If I could be in a wheelchair and move like I move, you got two feet, you should be moving faster," Soares said.

He couldn’t be stopped — ”everyone know that about Squeaky,” Soares said.

Squeaky is a nickname David had since he was a newborn.

“He was a preemie, my grandpa called him that," Soares said. “And it just stuck with him, little pipsqueak.”

Their Sunday routine, while mom prepared Sunday dinner, was for David and Soares to play Madden NFL 20 on PlayStation.

“His hands couldn’t move, but he could play a PlayStation with his mouth," Soares said.

And he was remarkably good at it. So good, that Soares wanted to record him on video. But David was adamant, he would not have it; there would be no recordings.

Jacqueline was born in Franklin, La., the oldest of five siblings. She was a teen when she and her family relocated to Boston with her grandparents.

Jacqueline’s daughter died as an adolescent in the ’70s after she was hit by a car. She leaves two children: Soares and his older brother, Anthony Drayton.

For many years, Jacqueline worked as a housekeeper at a Boston hotel, Soares said.

She used to truly enjoy a day of fishing and loved “her gospel music,” Soares said. She also had a decent CD collection featuring Marvin Gaye, Barry White, and “all the old school talking about love [stuff]” he teased.

But cooking was Jacqueline’s mainstay.

“She loved to cook for everybody,” her son said. Okra with crab was a specialty, and she always made red rice for cookouts. But her gumbo, filled with crab, shrimp, and lobster, was best of all.

It was so delicious, (and expensive), Soares said, that “I used to tell her to charge for it."

Jacqueline began feeling poorly around April 1 and went Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She tested negative for COVID-19, but remained there a little over a week.

The day before she returned home, David went to Boston Medical Center with respiratory issues. He tested positive for COVID-19.

“Mom comes home, she finds out David has COVID and she’s worried,” Soares recalled.

Two days later, Soares made his daily morning call to his mother and he instantly knew something was not right.

“She thought I was somebody else," he said.

At the same time, David’s health was faltering, and his loved ones couldn’t visit.

“He was stuck in the hospital passing alone, by himself and it was so scary,” Soares said.

David had been intubated three times before and didn’t want to go through it again, Soares said. He was on the phone trying to talk David into it, begging him, “please just do it for me, please, do it for me.”

“Michael, I’m going to beat this out. You know me; I beat everything," David told him.

“I don’t know about this one," Soares said.

When David signed off, he said: “Tell everybody I love them."

That was on April 12 or 13. Around this same time, Jacqueline returned to the hospital. On the 14th, Soares got a call from his mother’s nurse telling him it’s time to come say “goodbye.”

At the hospital, Soares performed the heartbreaking duty of helping relatives say their farewells via FaceTime. Soares and a niece put on protective suits and spent their final moments with her.

He was on the highway, driving when the hospital called to tell him his mother had died.

About two hours later, David’s doctor called.

“They wanted to let him go right then and there,” Soares said. “I said ‘no, I just had to let go of my mother. Please, do anything you can to save my brother.‘ ”

When he arrived at the hospital, a few of David’s close friends had already gathered. They took turns suiting up to say their farewells at David’s bedside.

Soares knew his brother was dying, all of his organs were failing, but he resisted pulling the plug, until the next day. After he gave his permission, David died within an hour.

“I was trying to prolong it,” Soares said. “To see if he had a fighting chance.”


Carolina Gonçalves Lopes, 78: ‘Angel of Bowdoin Street’


Photograph of Carolina Gonçalves Lopes

In the 1990s, when tears and anguish overflowed in the troubled Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, Carolina Gonçalves Lopes was a source of comfort and strength.

A longtime cleaning lady, who barely raised her voice and spoke little English, she gave food to the hungry, clothes to the helpless, and a shoulder to those in need of a friend. Her quiet advocacy in Dorchester led to a recognition from former mayor Thomas M. Menino, and a 2004 headline in the Globe dubbed her “The Angel of Bowdoin Street.”

To her family, she was simply Tchubinha, or raindrops, in her native Cape Verde — a nurturing soul, said her son Carlos DePina.

“Every time I see her in my head, she is giving somebody something,’’ DePina recalled. “You’d give her something in one hand and she’d use the other to give it away.’’

Carolina died April 27 of complications caused by COVID-19 at Boston Medical Center after being on a ventilator for more than two weeks, her family said. She was 78.

For her family, the death was painful and sudden.

“She walked to the ambulance. She was fine,’’ said her son, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, who lived with her in Dorchester. Once in the hospital, he added, she never came back.

Carolina was born on the Cape Verdean island of Fogo. She was the sole daughter of Augusto Gonçalves Lopes and Maria José Marcelino, who discouraged her from learning to read and write, fearing girls who did so would be tempted to pen love letters to their boyfriends. But that didn’t stop her. She had a photographic memory and could recite words she had heard previously.

She had her first two children in her teens, her son said, and life was tough. To make ends meet, she used to walk up the hills and valleys of her town with a child on her back, one by her side, and a bundle of firewood on her head.

Much of her life, she did back-bending work in the fields. She never married and eventually had a total of seven children.

As an adult, she and four of her children headed to the island of Santiago in search of work. When things got tough, they moved to Portugal only to return to Cape Verde discouraged.

Hoping to defend her homeland during its push for independence from Portugal, she enlisted in the military and learned how to sign her name.

In 1988, Carolina immigrated to the United States and settled with a cousin in Bowdoin-Geneva, thriving with Cape Verde natives. She felt at home there and never left.

She volunteered at and later joined the staff of the former Log School Settlement House, a social service center, doing what she loves best. Many of the people who came there at that time were Cape Verdean natives who wanted to learn English, get food from the pantry, and obtain social services help.

Standing just 5-feet-2, Lopes became a presence in a neighborhood, which was overshadowed by episodes of violence and negative press. But in Bowdoin-Geneva, there are also pockets of light — the warm storekeepers she came to know, the neighbors keeping watch from their front porches, the friends who stopped to talk as she fed the birds from the Log School’s lawn.

She made dinners of rice and beans for anyone from her homeland who wanted a meal.

Once, she draped a winter coat over the shoulders of a 75-year-old man who regularly visited the Log School, her son said.

“My mom looked at him and said ‘You must be cold,' and she gave the guy the jacket,’’ he said.

She told the Globe in 2004 that her generosity will be rewarded long after she is gone: “God will reward me and my children.’’

In the meantime, she amassed more than three dozen citations and awards for helping the needy who visited the food pantry and clothing closet, and for soothing crying babies while their parents learned child-rearing skills. In 1989, Menino honored her for "10 years of dedication and love to the Cape Verdean Community.”

She eventually worked at the Log School for 20 years.

Larry Mayes, who worked at the school before joining the Menino administration, said Carolina knew he was heading to City Hall long before Menino came calling.

He said that Carolina coached him on the neighborhood’s leadership: who was bona fide, who was bogus. “She helped me understand the community — its pride, its possibilities,” he told the Globe at the time.

“I will always consider her an eternal mother to me,” Mayes said in a recent interview.

Still it was her family who kept her whole. Vanessa Flowers recalled her grandmother as a hard-working, strong-minded woman who would send “bidons” (or gasoline barrels) packed with goods back to the family in Cape Verde. It was a testament to the love and support she shared.

“I have vivid memories of my uncles carrying [the barrels] up the steps,’’ said Flowers, who lived in Cape Verde as a child. “She really was the rock of the family."


Daniel Kemp, 83: Renaissance man


Photograph of Daniel Kemp

Daniel Kemp was a Renaissance man in every sense of the term. An award-winning scientist and organic chemistry professor at MIT, Dan collected and cut semiprecious stones, sang chamber music and performed scenes from plays with a Back Bay performing arts club, and once held a dinner party where he cooked a meal start to finish from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking," by Julia Child, whom he knew.

He had a cockatoo named Octavian, Tavvy for short, who was his companion for more than three decades and was bereft when Dan’s late-in-life battle with dementia disrupted their close bond.

Dan, 83, who lived in the Back Bay for five decades, died of COVID-19 on May 2.

A lifelong bachelor, Dan was born in Portland, Ore., and grew up in Missoula, Mont. He got his undergraduate degree at Reed College and came east to attend Harvard University, where he earned a PhD in 1964 and went on to become a faculty member at MIT for 45 years.

He made a number of significant scientific contributions, including developing the eponymous Kemp’s triacid, a chemical compound, and a reaction known as the Kemp elimination. He was also the lead author on a successful organic chemistry textbook.

But it was Dan himself, not his work, that people were drawn to. Christian Schubert was his final graduate student, earning his PhD in 2009, and the two of them could spend hours talking about science, music, theater, and politics, Christian said.

Dan’s interest in acting led him to craft a kind of stage persona, Christian said, that he employed during lectures and in his personal relationships.

“He was intellectually brilliant, yes,” said Christian, who lives in Concord and works in biotech. “He was a world-renowned scientist and he had phenomenal success as a teacher at MIT and he had a great reputation. But there was just something about him as a physical presence that instantly drew you to him.”

“It was the person that I was fascinated by, and the mentorship,” he continued, “and his ability to really show the human side of science, which as you know sometimes in these world-renowned academic institutions isn’t always the case.”

Dan became like a second father to Christian, who, like Dan, was an only child. Dan even helped Christian cut the stone for his wife-to-be’s engagement ring, spending more than 40 hours teaching him the craft.

Dan was also active in the fight to abolish capital punishment in Massachusetts and, after surviving prostate cancer, he started a fund at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that allowed the oncologist who treated him to start his own lab.

“He was intellectually brilliant in so many things,” Christian said. “But in the end, I think what stuck with him was really his deep empathy for the human condition, our cultures, and making the world a better place."


Victoria Sorkin, 85: Found her artistic talent late in life


Photograph of Victoria Sorkin

Victoria Ann Wagger came to Philadelphia in the 1950s to attend Temple University. But she found something more, falling for Bernard “Bernie” Sorkin, who was attending dental school.

They met at a dance — Vici, as she was known, intentionally dropped her handkerchief and he picked it up, declaring “chivalry is not dead.”

In 50 years together, they lived on two continents and raised two children. And when Bernie was gone, Vici discovered her hidden talent as a painter.

Vici Sorkin, 85, died of COVID-19 on April 8 while a resident of the NewBridge on the Charles nursing home in Dedham.

At Temple, Vici received a bachelor’s degree in education and dental hygiene, and Bernie got his dental degree. The couple married in 1956 and after a few years as a practicing dentist, he enlisted in the Army and the couple cruised across the Atlantic to Germany, where he worked as an Army dentist.

They left the United States as a twosome and returned with a baby boy, Paul, now a patent lawyer in Boston. Their daughter, Sara, was born two years later.

The family settled in New Jersey where Bernie had successful dental practices. Vici cared for the children, but returned to work as a dental hygienist when they left for college.

“She always wanted to be a mother,” said her daughter, Sara Kofman, a telecommunications engineer. “She told us she was so thrilled to have a boy and then a girl.”

She was a voracious reader — especially of historical novels — and a prolific letter writer, insisting that if she took the time to write someone, they would write back. And she was usually right. She wrote to Gerald Ford during the bicentennial celebration in 1976 and received a signed response, with copies of his speeches.

After Bernie died in 2006, Vici moved into an assisted living facility — first in New Jersey and then in Massachusetts, where she could be close to her children.

While at Traditions of Dedham, where she lived for 10 years, she discovered her talent in painting and drawing; she also wrote a column each month for the Traditions bulletin.

When she eventually needed more care, she moved to NewBridge on the Charles, where she remained active, visiting with her family and attending group outings. She also enjoyed Bingo, exercise class, and Friday night sabbath services.

She adored her three grandchildren, and had photos of them placed around her room so she could see them when she fell asleep and when she woke up.

She continued painting and drawing and writing letters when the spirit moved her.

She was a such a huge fan of Skinny Pop popcorn, she wrote the company a thank you letter.

When she received a huge box of Skinny Pop bags in return, she gave them all away to the nursing home staff and residents.

The coronavirus hit the nursing home hard and fast. Within just a few days of learning one resident had tested positive, Vici came down with symptoms. A few days later, she died.

On the day before she got sick, Vici’s children were able to visit her on FaceTime.

“I will miss sharing my life with her,'" said her son. “I’ll miss visiting with her and telling her what’s going on. But her sense of what is right and what is wrong will remain as a guide."


Ruth Hanson (80) and Robert Hanson (75): United until the end


Photograph of Ruth Hanson (80) and Robert Hanson (75)

Ruth and Robert Hanson were church- and family-oriented homebodies, happiest when bringing relatives together for holiday meals and backyard cookouts.

They were together for more than three decades — a closeness that endured right to the end. The couple died April 19 within hours of each other, both from COVID-19.

Robert, 75, died in a Boston hospital at 4 a.m.; Ruth, 80, just before noon about 15 miles away at a medical center in Brockton.

“That was the saddest thing I ever had to deal with in my life,” said Ruth’s daughter, Louise Broadus. "A friend, she said to me, ‘I’m so sad for your loss; but the most beautiful thing about it is that they died together.’

“And I guess that kind of gave me some peace,” Broadus said. “But the fact that they died, I’m still devastated. It’s so sudden, from out of nowhere.”

For most of their 30 years together, Ruth and Robert made their home in Brockton in a four-bedroom ranch house with a fenced-in yard. They bought it in 1993.

In February 2019 they sold the house and moved to the newly built Bell Stoughton development in Stoughton, a gated complex billed as “Apartment Living at its Best.”

Ruth and Robert had barely been there a year when they died.

“My mother was a church person, so she stayed in church a lot,” her daughter said.

Robert, not so much, she said. “He wouldn’t go every Sunday like she would, but he would go on occasion,” she said.

When the two met in the late ’80s, they would upend their lives for each other.

They were in their 40s and married to other people. Robert had three nearly grown sons. Ruth had a 2-year-old; her three other children were in their late teens or young adults.

They divorced their spouses, and as Robert’s obituary said, they united “until the final days."

“Sweet Hanson” is what they called Robert back in the day.

He grew up with three brothers in Virginia Beach, Va., and excelled in athletics at Union Kempsville High School. After graduation, relatives said, he played semiprofessional baseball for the Virginia Beach Clowns in largely segregated leagues in Virginia.

Robert eventually tried out for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles, family said.

Over the years Robert worked at Morris Shoes, the US Postal Service, and Monsanto. He retired in 2001 from Northeastern Scaffolding, and as his obituary said, he was “a true friend to the end” who “touched the lives of so many."

Ruth, the family matriarch, went by “Carol” with friends. But with family, and at Messiah Baptist Church in Brockton, she was always “Ruth,” her daughter said.

Shes was born and raised in Far Rockaway, N.Y., and graduated from Queens Girls High School.

She moved to Boston as a single mother with four young children. She got a job as a machine operator at Gillette and stayed for 20 years until she retired in 1993, her children said.

Ruth played baseball, too; second base was her position. In the ’70s, she won league championships with her Gillette women’s work team, family said.

“Carol was the epitome of what a friend should be,” Sarah A. Stevenson, of Allenhurst, Ga., wrote in an online tribute. “She was loving, caring, and definitely a person I could confide in.”

The Hansons used to enjoy frequent car trips to visit family in Virginia and New York, Broadus said.

“Once they started getting older, they liked to stay at home,” she said.

Back in March, the couple had been recovering from surgeries, but feeling good.

After knee surgery, Ruth spent less than a week in rehab and was seeing a physical therapist, said her son, Traecee King. Robert was home too, up and about with a good appetite, after open-heart surgery.

“They were back to doing what they always did,” King said.

Then they came down with the virus.

Ruth was hospitalized at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton since April 6. An ambulance took Robert to Carney Hospital in Dorchester on Easter Sunday, April 12.

They hadn’t seen each other in nearly a week when they died — just eight hours apart.


Kenneth Shapleigh, 95: Entrepreneur, Lego master


Photograph of Kenneth Shapleigh

He was an adventurer at an early age, signing up for the Merchant Marines after graduating from Malden High in 1942. Kenneth Shapleigh became a ship’s chief radio operator, traveling the world to deliver supplies to the troops in World War II.

When he returned, he worked on a classified project at MIT before starting a long career purchasing electronic parts for General Radio in Concord, which manufactured testing equipment.

At age 50, Kenneth followed his entrepreneurial instincts and started the first in a series of small businesses, teaching himself computer programming and other key skills, like how to scrub databases.

The first business was called “Instant Office,” which rented out desks and phones — much like co-working spaces that are popular now.

After that, he ran an answering service, before starting a company called “Keeper of the List" that helped small businesses develop sales leads by targeting specific audiences.

“He loved software and taught himself,” said his daughter, Marilyn, of Reading. “He’d buy books and read online with the patience of a saint. The stuff was foreign, but he’d keep at it."

Kenneth, who lived in Woburn, kept the business going until age 83, when he became too ill to continue. He moved into Wingate at Reading (now called Bear Mountain).

But his curiosity didn’t wane at the nursing home.

When he arrived, his life seemed without purpose. But then his daughter remembered that when he was younger, he had enjoyed building model ships and airplanes. She bought him a Lego kit.

Kenneth quickly became a Lego master, creating complex pieces — like a Volkswagen bus, London Bridge, a ship called the Flying Cow, among others. The nursing home staff and other residents became so amazed by his talent that he was given a special table in the lobby to display his work.

“He did it every day,” said his daughter. “He did his first one then I bought him another. He did hundreds of them, including a huge one with 4,000 pieces. They were extremely complicated, but he loved it."

He was also famous for his kind nature, greeting everyone with a “ho ho.”

“He was one of the most positive people I know,” said his son, Neal, of North Andover. “I can’t ever recall him saying anything bad about anyone. It would rankle him if someone yelled at a nurse. He knew she was doing the best she could. You’d never hear that from him. He never did anything to anger anybody.”

Even in his later years, he was always on the lookout for new adventures. He had wanted to attend this year’s re-enactment of the battle at Concord’s Old North Bridge on Patriots Day as well as his high school reunion over the summer.

He also urged the nursing home to invest in a bus that could accommodate every resident on day trips to places like the North Shore Music Theatre or the George’s Island ferry in Boston.

But Kenneth became too ill to fulfill those dreams and died of COVID-19 at age 95 on April 27. Before he died, he was taken to Winchester Hospital, where the staff made an exception and allowed his son and daughter to visit him for a few hours.


Nancy Lawton, 85: "She was enormously welcoming"


Photograph of Nancy Lawton

Nancy Lawton was a student at Emmanuel College in the 1950s when she attended a speech by Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. As she stood outside in the rain after the event, waiting for her brother to pick her up, the senator pulled up in a limo and offered her a ride.

“No, thank you senator, I’m all set," said Nancy, then 20. The story of her brush with fame has been handed down to her children and grandchildren and never failed to bring good-natured ribbing.

“Everyone would say, ’Why didn’t you get in the car? You could have been one of the Kennedys,' ” said her son, Jamie.

The retired receptionist, known for her warmth and quick wit, had an enthusiasm for life that never waned. She was a voracious reader and engaging conversationalist who loved talking about politics and culture and took an avid interest in the lives of others. She felt just as at ease working alongside “brainy people" at Harvard Law School as she did hanging out with her nine grandchildren and their friends, said her daughter, Ellen.

“She was enormously welcoming to so many people in her life,” her daughter said. “If you were 7 or 70, she was right there with you, eager to have a conversation."

Nancy died from the coronavirus May 1 at Maristhill Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Waltham following a long decline due to Alzheimer’s. She was 85.

Nancy Breen Lawton was raised in a big house on Carruth Street in Dorchester. She was one of six children of Eleanor and John Anthony Breen. Her father was chairman of the Boston Housing Authority and briefly served as deputy to Mayor John B. Hynes.

Nancy attended Notre Dame Academy and graduated from Emmanuel College, where she was president of the Dramatic Society and “was known for being able to nap in class sitting upright,” according to an obituary written by her daughter Ellen.

In 1960, Nancy married Tom Lawton, a mathematician who worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The couple raised their family in Belmont and spent summers at a ramshackle cottage in Manomet, a seaside village in Plymouth.

She began working as a receptionist in the early 1970s, starting as an iconic “Kelly Girl” for the temporary employment agency. Later, she spent 10 years as a receptionist at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.

“She just loved being in the middle of this academic setting where there were lots of smart people,” her daughter said.

She reveled in the Harvard Square atmosphere, the quirky characters and the book stores, restaurants, and shops.

After her husband’s death in 1987, Nancy found joy in the next chapter of her life. She loved connecting with family and friends and going to the movies and the theater. She was an unabashed critic who took pride in walking out if a show was awful. She loved traveling with her sister and friends.

While crossing the Canadian Rockies by train in the early 1990s, Nancy spent days hanging over the rail of the observation car, sneaking cigarettes with "some old hippie,” her daughter said.

She tried to strike up a conversation, but the man was “taciturn,” she later recounted. It wasn’t until after he disembarked that she learned from the conductor that he was music legend Neil Young, according to her daughter.

During a 2012 Globe interview, she described her realization that it was time to stop driving after she “started side-swiping cars." She issued a blanket apology to the the town of Arlington, the scene of the crime.


Hannah Laughlin, 94: A welcoming heart and home

Jamaica Plain

Photograph of Hannah Laughlin

Everyone was welcome at Hannah Laughlin’s rambling Victorian home in Jamaica Plain. When her daughter’s friends needed a place to stay, she gave them a room. One stayed for several years.

In the 1980s, she took in Boston Language Institute students from around the world. She relished her role as surrogate parent and tour guide, driving them around the city to point out the best spots.

“Her whole being was about giving and receiving love," said her daughter, Susan Farmer. “She would have been happy if that’s all she did in life.”

Hannah (O’Shea) Laughlin died April 16, at 94, of respiratory failure, believed to have been caused by COVID-19. She was living at Briarwood Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Needham, where her sister-in-law died of the virus five days earlier.

Hannah had remained “unscathed by life,” calm and kind even in the face of hardship, her daughter said. “She saw the beauty in everyone and everything.”

Born in Boston, Hannah was the oldest of four daughters of Daniel and Hedwig “Helen” O’Shea. She was 12 when her father died at age 36. She worked as a restaurant hostess while helping care for her sisters, often using her earnings to splurge on treats for the family, like pastries.

After graduating from Most Precious Blood School in Hyde Park, she worked as a secretary at Coca-Cola, where she occasionally modeled at corporate events. Beautiful and extremely shy, she later told her daughter she felt self-conscious when she emerged from behind a curtain dressed in a skit outfit and fur boots, sipping a Coke.

Hannah was much more at ease working with sandpaper, a hammer, or a sewing machine. She was nicknamed “Handy Hannah” for her ability to master home improvement projects, from shingling a roof and restoring furniture to building a staircase.

In 1950, she married Walter F. Laughlin Sr., a World War II veteran she met at Coca-Cola. The couple had a son and three daughters. She worked full-time as a secretary and statistical typist while nursing her husband through a long illness. She still found time to sew her children’s clothes, their dolls’ clothes, and Halloween costumes.

Hannah could type more than 100 words per minute and made extra money by typing thesis papers for MIT and Harvard students, Her daughter, Meg Buckley, recalled sitting in the car while her mother drove from college to college, leaving business cards advertising her services.

Walter Laughlin Sr. died in 1976, leaving Hannah a widow at 50. She continued to work until she was 70 and was devoted to her six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She loved to babysit and take the children mini-golfing and on trips to the library and toy stores.

When her granddaughter, Lisa, turned 12, Hannah wanted to give her a memorable gift. She arranged for the two of them to ride on a small airplane, even though Hannah was afraid of flying.

“She’d take her shirt off her back to do anything for you,” said her daughter Meg. “She just had a big heart.”


Diane Marie Huggins, 66: A life altered by mental illness


Photograph of Diane Marie Huggins

Diane Marie Huggins’s life was filled with upheaval. The good stretches could last for years. But a bad stretch could veer into the unthinkable.

Huggins, a grandmother of six, died from COVID-19 on April 11 at MetroWest Medical Center after living for the past few years at Waterview Lodge in Ashland. She was 66.

Raised largely in Roxbury, she spent her childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home. By the time Huggins was a mother of three young children, she was dueling with unrelenting, violent voices in her head. She would later be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Three separate times, Huggins attacked strangers with a knife she carried in her purse. Her victims were a 4-year-old boy and mothers with young children. They survived, although one woman lost sight in one eye.

Each time, Huggins was acquitted of her violent acts by reason of insanity, followed by a court-ordered stay at a state mental hospital.

Huggins’s course through the state’s splintered mental health care system was prominently featured in a 2016 article by the Globe’s Spotlight Team. It documented how no one spoke up or stepped in when Huggins stopped visiting Boston Medical Center for the outpatient psychiatric care she had come to rely on.

“It was hard for her, but we never turned our backs on her,” said Huggins’ daughter, Arianne Neves, of Waltham. “I think she just spent a lot of her life trying to be a normal person.”

Neves said her mother was reserved but social, and with her children she was quick to joke, laugh, and get silly.

“You could always get a smile out of her,” Neves said.

She enjoyed crossword puzzles and Stephen King novels. But most of all, she was a sports fan with a passion for football and basketball. The New England Patriots and the Boston Celtics were her teams.

Upon learning Tom Brady was leaving the Patriots, Huggins claimed the world was ending, Neves said.

When Huggins’ life was on the upswing, she stuck to her antipsychotic medications, held a job in human services, and rented an apartment in Boston’s West End. In 2008, she earned a GED and then a college degree at Bunker Hill Community College. She was 51.

But her mental illness would prompt three psychotic episodes that resulted in the violence and sent Huggins to psychiatric institutions for long stretches.

For periods afterward, her family said, Huggins thrived. She relished her grandchildren and would regularly babysit Neves’s three children.

“My kids didn’t know the mother I knew,” Neves said. They knew a grandmother who showed up at events and took them out on weekends, she said.

On April 8, Huggins was taken to the hospital with a 103-degree fever. She tested positive for the virus and died April 11.

When it was clear that Huggins would not survive, a nurse arranged a FaceTime farewell. Huggins had little energy and her oxygen mask couldn’t come off for long, but she recognized Neves and her brother, Shaun.

“She said our names,” Neves said.

A few hours later she was gone.

Lois Caporal, 89: “She was grateful for every day”


Photograph of Lois Caporal

Lois Kendrew Caporal loved reminiscing about her childhood in the South, spending summers at Lake Winnipesaukee, and tending to her garden. But being a mother was what mattered most.

In the 1970s, there were more than 50 children living on the street in Brookline’s Washington Square where Lois and her husband, Larry, raised their four children. And everyone knew that their house, the big Victorian at 5 Bartlett Crescent, was the place to go for homemade Popsicles and popcorn.

“A lot of my friends called Mom, ‘Mom,’ ” said Lois’s daughter Cindy Tamkin. “She became Mom to everyone.”

She could walk into a room filled with strangers, find something to talk about with everyone, and quickly make friends, her daughter said.

“She always had a smile on her face,” she said. “She was grateful for every day.”

Lois died April 10, at age 89, of complications related to the coronavirus. She was living at Briarwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Needham.

Born in Williamsburg, Va., Lois was one of two children of A.E. Kendrew and Melinda Ide Kendrew. Her parents had been living in Boston when her father, an architect, moved the family to Virginia as he worked on the Colonial Williamsburg restoration project.

Lois graduated from the College of William and Mary, where she earned a liberal arts degree and joined Pi Beta Phi, one of the nation’s first sororities. After college, she moved to Boston, where she worked as a secretary at Liberty Mutual. She rented a studio apartment on Beacon Hill with three of her sorority sisters.

In 1957, she married Larry Caporal, an artist and a commissioned officer in the US Navy and the merchant marine. The couple lived in Brookline for more than 35 years. She was active in All Saints Parish, where she co-founded the Corner Co-op Nursery school. Parents would donate their time to care for each other’s children.

Lois had a son with special needs and became a strong advocate for him, according to her daughter, Laura Geilen. She lobbied for Chapter 766, the 1972 law that established the right of special-needs children to an education.

“She was lobbying; she was organizing meetings and making a lot of calls,” Geilen said. The law, which mainstreamed many special-needs students, allowed her brother to attend the same public school that she did.

Lois was also an avid gardener and a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

She spent summers on Lake Winnipesaukee at a camp in Tuftonboro, N.H. Her family had owned it since the late 1800s and it remained a beloved spot where generations gathered to swim, fish, and boat. Lois had four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She and Larry retired to Wolfeboro, N.H., in 1995. He died in 2010.

Lois remained eternally cheerful, her daughters said. It became a bit of a family joke that whenever they all gathered for a meal, she’d say the same thing: “Isn’t it nice we are all together.”


Joann Yee, 76: “Incredibly generous”


Photograph of Joann Yee

Joann Yee treated guests at her Brighton home to feasts of Hong Kong-style lobster, tofu with black mushrooms, and sauteed bitter melon with cured pork — followed by games of mahjong.

The bounty was Joann’s making alone, the payoff from years working in restaurants, a flower shop, Filene’s Basement, and a downtown Boston courthouse.

“She was incredibly generous,” said her daughter, Laura.

Joann, 76, died April 28 at Carney Hospital in Dorchester after coming down with COVID-19. For the past eight years, she had been a patient at Quincy Health & Rehabilitation Center, where she was treated for dementia and lingering effects of a car crash, her daughter said.

She was born in 1943in a farming village in China and given the name Fei Yin. By the time she was 2, her mother had abandoned the family. Her father later remarried and had four more children.

The stepmother treated Joann like a nuisance, “a pebble stuck in the woman’s shoe,” according to her daughter, who described the fraught relationship in a May 1995 column she wrote for the Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “My mother: A jewel who shines on all,” read the headline.

When Joann was still a teenager, her father arranged a marriage for her in the United States and the union paved the way for her entire family to move to Boston.

The marriage was unhappy, but it gave Joann three children, Laura and her brothers, Calvin and Timothy. With money she secretly saved, Yee got a divorce and bought a two-family home in Brighton.

To pay the bills, Yee worked two jobs, seating patrons as a hostess at Tahiti Restaurant in Dedham during the day, stopping at home to eat dinner prepared by her daughter, and then driving to Boston’s Theatre District where she served cocktails at the former 57 Restaurant on Stuart Street.

In her newspaper column, Joann’s daughter recalled some of the indignities her mother encountered as a waitress, and singled out a bad tipper: The late Frank Perdue, the poultry magnate, left a 10-cent tip on a $100 tab.

But wages and tips paid college tuition bills and allowed Joann to open a flower shop in Wellesley called Floral Designs by Joann. It was mostly a one-woman operation, Laura said. Her mother selected flowers from the former Boston Flower Market in the South End, assembled the arrangements, and delivered orders herself.

Joann loved dahlias, peonies, stargazer and calla lilies, but roses, and the painstaking work she devoted to removing the thorns, were a signature.

“If you had roses from Joann, they didn’t have thorns on them," Laura Yee said.

An economic downturn cost her the shop, but she continued to sell flowers from home.

In later years, she held jobs at Filene’s in Downtown Crossing and on the custodial staff Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, where her son, Timothy, is a court officer.

Her daughter’s 1995 column about her ends: “She is truly the reward, a gem scratched by privation that continues to shine and inspire me and so many others.”


Cynthia Lee Segal, 72: Art was her life


Photograph of Cynthia Lee Segal

After a devastating car crash in 1968, Cynthia Lee Segal found herself in a rehabilitation facility in New York City, notebook handy and surrounded by potential subjects to sketch.

The wreck on the Massachusetts Turnpike outside Worcester had put her in a coma for eight weeks and left her unable to walk, but her love of art and painting endured.

“It was her life,” said her sister, Linda Fritz, whose Newton home is a showcase for Segal’s decades of oil and still life paintings.

Cynthia, 72, died of COVID-19 on April 9 at Belmont Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she had lived since last summer.

She was a college student when she nearly died in the car crash, but she continued to pursue her education. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in art from Boston University, Fritz said, and later worked in Boston-area nursing homes, specializing in recreation and activities.

She lived for many years in Brighton. In 2017, her partner Michael Lillian died. The same year, Cynthia moved to Evans Park at Newton Center, an assisted living facility.

One advantage of living at Evans Park was a new neighbor, Arthur Polonsky, the renowned expressionist painter. Cynthia had studied under Polonsky at BU, Fritz said, and now was sharing meals with him at the facility’s dining hall.

“She felt she was eating with the gods,” Fritz said. Polonsky died last year of advanced dementia at 93.

Cynthia enjoyed taking art classes for the camaraderie; she deeply enjoyed painting with others, Fritz said.

She had escaped dying in the car crash, her sister said, and in some ways the 52 years that followed felt like a bonus.


Thomas Tarbell Russell, 83: Marine memories


Photograph of Thomas Tarbell Russell

Even after Alzheimer’s began to steal Thomas Tarbell Russell’s memories, he held onto the lyrics he learned as a high-school graduate newly enlisted in the Marine Corps.

“From the Halls of Montezuma/ To the shores of Tripoli/ We fight our country’s battles / In the air, on land, and sea.”

The lyrics were printed in a pamphlet about Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that Thomas saved from his military service. When he moved in January to JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow the pamphlet came with him in a memory book, said Ellen Russell of Wilbraham, one of his three daughters.

“He could still sing it,” she said. “It was a way to engage with him.”

The elder Russell, 83, died at the facility on April 7 after developing COVID-19.

Raised on a dairy farm in Westmoreland, N.H., Thomas enlisted in the Marines after high school and served during peacetime.

His daughter said she doesn’t know whether the Marines gave her father his happiest days or maybe his most memorable ones. But he recalled the experiences throughout the five years he lived with Alzheimer’s, she said.

“That was kind of the memory that stuck with him the longest,” she said.

After the military, Thomas pursued a career as a computer programmer and was mentored at his first job by Grace Hopper, the pioneering computer scientist and US Navy rear admiral who worked on the UNIVAC I, or Universal Automatic Computer. Her subordinates nicknamed her “Amazing Grace.”

Ellen Russell said her father also remembered Hopper as he coped with Alzheimer’s and expressed pride at having worked alongside her. “He was just very impressed with her intellect, her organization, her ability to get things done,” Ellen said.

Thomas completed a 29-year career at IBM in 1993 and then moved from Hyde Park, N.Y., to Plymouth with his wife, Thayer “Patty” Neal Russell. They were married for 45 years. She died in 2004.

Near the ocean in Plymouth, Thomas found an outlet in sailing, a hobby he taught himself by reading books.

“He didn’t have any teachers,” his daughter said. “He kind of just experimented on his own.”

He sailed the Hudson River and Cape Cod Bay. His first mate was always the same, his wife, Patty.


Kay Gallagher, 98: Clearinghouse for family news


Photograph of Kay Gallagher

She was a beloved figure in the town of Westwood, where Joseph, her husband of more than 50 years, served as town manager.

But Kay Gallagher had her own claims to fame. She raised five children, Mark, Mary, Katie, Rob and Joe Jr., while heading the women’s group at the St. Margaret Mary Church, helping collect and count the weekly donations.

Gallagher, 98, died at the Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center in Norwood on April 1 after developing COVID-19.

"She was definitely NOT a helicopter mom," said the youngest child, Joe, senior vice president of Boston Sand & Gravel. “We had a very structured home life — breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the family. You got home when the street lights came on.”

Neither Kay nor her husband graduated from college, but they instilled the value of education in their children, all of whom have college degrees.

Kay worked as a customer service representative for the New England Telephone company between 1942 and 1952 in various offices, including one on Boylston Street in downtown Boston.

“God forbid if you called her an operator,” said her cousin, Bette Cronin. “There was a big difference. Customer services reps sat at a desk and people came in with questions. You had to be intelligent, dress well, and be attractive. You had to be at a certain level.”

Brian Kelly, a longtime Westwood resident and former member of the town’s school committee, called Kay "a great neighbor who made the world a better place with her kindness and welcoming nature.”

As her children got older and married, she became the matriarch of the huge family — with 13 grandchildren who called her Nana.

“She just thrived on people and relationships,” Joe said. “She got so much joy being around others.”

She was often the bearer of candy — particularly M&M’s, which she would dole out to the kids during family visits.

Kay Murphy and Joseph Gallagher met in Scituate in 1946, where her family owned a summer home. Her father, John Murphy, was president of the Scituate Beach Association, a social club that hosted an annual July Fourth bash. They married four years later.

Well into her 90s, Gallagher still served as the clearinghouse for all family communications. “Everyone would check in with her," Joe said. “She knew what was going on with everybody.”

She lived on her own until she was 92. She had just moved into Charlwell House seven months ago.

Her son believes she lived so long because she did everything in moderation.

“She’d eat one slice of pizza. She’d have one drink. She would go for a walk, but wouldn’t be a marathon runner," he said. “She had a wonderful life — until the last 30 days.”


Cornelius Murphy, 91: A late-in-life nurturer

West Roxbury

Photograph of Cornelius Murphy

For most of his life, Cornelius Murphy was not a diaper-changing kind of guy.

He was a hard worker, following his father and older brother to serve in the Boston Police Department, where he spent 43 years. He was a great listener and a devoted father, attending all his son’s hockey and baseball games.

Nurturing, however, was not what Cornelius, who went by Connie, was known for.

But after Connie’s wife died of a brain tumor in 2004, shortly after the birth of their first grandson, he underwent a transformation, said his son, Michael.

He changed diapers and picked up his grandsons from school, sometimes taking them to IHOP for dinner when their parents, both doctors, were at work. Well into his 80s, he took them sledding and laced up their skates at hockey practice.

“That was really a time of rebirth,” Michael said. After losing his wife, Janet, whom he had met as a teenager roller skating in Brighton, Connie devoted his life to his grandsons, Michael Jr., now 17, and Matthew, 14.

"It was like a new light," his son Michael said.

Connie, 91, of West Roxbury, died April 5 of complications from COVID-19. His family — his son, an only child, who is an emergency medicine physician at Tufts Medical Center, his daughter-in-law, Lori Farnan, a primary care physician, and their two sons — was escorted to the cemetery by two police officers on motorcycles.

He served in World War II and the Korean War and was a dedicated handball player, another family tradition, his son said.

He was also a phenomenal storyteller, especially about his days on the force. Wherever they were, his father seemed to have a story about a car chase or an arrest that took place there. “Oh, I chased a guy down this alley,” Michael recalled him saying. “He was going up the fire escape and he tried to throw a TV set at us.”

His police career ran the gamut, from working as a detective on the Boston Strangler case to arresting a man who stabbed someone with a samurai sword at a party in the Back Bay.

Michael, the first in his family to go to college, used to call his father on his way to work and talk to him about his hospital job. His father’s emotional support was invaluable, he said: “He was a phenomenal listener.”

Connie was also an eternal optimist, especially when it came to the Red Sox. “It’d be 7 to 1, they’d be losing,” his son said, "and I’d call him and he’d be like, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll come back. ... They always do.’ "


Peter W. Coogan, 76: Handled challenges with great equanimity


Photograph of Peter W. Coogan

Peter W. Coogan was not a complainer. Calm and even-keeled, he managed his law practice and vision loss, donning baseball caps to shield his eyes and relying on large fonts and color contrast to read documents.

“He was really quite amazing," said Debbie Coogan, his wife of 45 years.

His pragmatism and equanimity served him well in the last 14 months of his life, spent at Briarwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Needham, where he was treated for esophageal dysmotility and, later, muscular dystrophy. He died there of COVID-19 on April 9, but not before learning he had become a grandfather again; his daughter had just adopted a second son and given him her father’s middle name, Weston.

Peter, 76, had graduated from Roxbury Latin School, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School. An early legal job with a Senate subcommittee put him to work on both the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18, and the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed Congress in 1972 but failed to win ratification by the states.

He returned to Boston in 1973 and joined the law firm Foley Hoag, where he would become a partner in less than two years. Debbie, hired the year before, was the firm’s second female lawyer. She was smitten.

“I just fell madly in love with him,” said Debbie. “He was so interesting and fun and expanded me in so many ways.”

Both were political junkies, whose early dates featured reruns of the Watergate hearings. He introduced her to classical music and the bucolic life in Vermont, where his extended family owned a 200-acre farm.

After they married in 1975, they raised their two children in the Newton home where Peter had grown up. But they spent virtually every weekend and holiday at the farm, their two children climbing trees, building forts, and sledding with their cousins. Peter would ride down the hill in his snowmobile and pick them up for the next run, recalled his son, Christopher Coogan, 37, of Charlestown.

Tractors were Peter’s passion. He had at least 10 of them and woke early to mow the fields at the farm. He taught his daughter, Tracy Coogan Plants, of Brookline, to drive a tractor before she could drive a car.

He taught her other skills by pretending he needed her help. “I didn’t realize he was tricking me for maybe 20 years,” said Tracy. "He could have done it in two minutes, but he was able to encourage me and give me confidence to find the answer on my own.”

After retirement, Peter and Debbie bought a house in Tucson, where they enjoyed classical music concerts.

“They were inseparable,” Tracy said. “They had this calm togetherness that was just peaceful.”


Margaret Laughlin, 91: A poetic life devoted to healing


Photograph of Margaret Laughlin

Margaret “Peg” Laughlin had just graduated college in 1949 and was looking for her first job as a physical therapist during a polio epidemic that was sweeping across the country, affecting children especially hard.

There was no cure for the virus, no vaccine; people were quarantined in their homes in a desperate effort to protect their families. But Peg, the daughter of a prominent Boston doctor, didn’t hesitate when she heard Oklahoma was in dire need of health care workers.

Traveling by herself, she boarded a train in Boston for Tulsa. She spent about four months working at a field hospital, treating children who struggled to breathe and couldn’t move their limbs.

It was a transformative experience, by her own account.

“I cannot imagine my life without doing Physical Therapy!” Peg wrote in a journal decades later as she reflected on her life. “It was through that work I truly found myself by helping others. My patients always gave me more than I could ever give to them. Every morning starting out I would thank God for my good health and ask His help to get me through these difficult cases. And He would come through every time!”

Margaret (Heffernan) Laughlin died April 11, at age 91, of complications from the novel coronavirus. She had been living at a Needham rehabilitation center for about a month while recuperating after a brief hospitalization.

The beloved matriarch of a large Irish clan, Peg was a mother, grandmother, poet, breast cancer survivor, and nature lover.

“She lived life with such gratitude and open arms it was infectious,” said her son, Jim Laughlin. “She just had this vigorous love for life, and that carried through her whole life.”

Born and raised in Jamaica Plain, Peg was one of nine children of Dr. Roy and Kathleen Heffernan. Her father was the Kennedy family doctor in Boston and influenced her academic pursuits. She graduated from Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education with a bachelor’s degree in science in 1949.

She worked for the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston after returning from Oklahoma and was featured on a poster advertising the agency’s services in the 1950s. She traveled from home to home in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods to treat patients.

She left that job after she married Robert Laughlin, a World War II veteran, in 1956 and began raising a family. The couple had five children and lived in Medfield for many years before moving to Topsfield.

Peg returned to work as a physical therapist in 1969 after surviving breast cancer. She began writing poetry to cope with the loss of patients she had treated. She found solace by writing about them and sharing her words with their grieving families.

She retired as a physical therapist in 1986, and her husband died two years later. She remained deeply spiritual and saw the beauty in every day, her sons said. She traveled with friends, organized college reunions, went bird-watching in the woods, took creative writing classes, and gave poetry readings.

“She loved socializing and was always full of smiles, energy and love for people,” said her son,Tom Laughlin.

He recalled how proud he was when some of his mother’s poems were published in a local newspaper. Her example inspired some of her children and 10 grandchildren to write poetry, he said.

On April 19, Peg’s four sons and daughter gathered at one of her favorite spots, Hood Pond in Topsfield. They stood more than six feet apart, connected as they held a rope fashioned from their mother’s scarves. As birds sang and the sun sparkled on the water, they took turns reading her poems.

— Shelley Murphy

Berton Sumner Fliegel, 90: Fought poverty, injustice


Photograph of Berton Sumner Fliegel

Sometimes people who are helping others can be made to feel invisible, Berton Sumner Fliegel once told his daughter Lisa. “And they’re not,” he said.

Berton was not one to overlook others. As a resident of Belmont Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, he was intent on serving the people who served him — playing them music, reading them poems, and above all, expressing his gratitude.

Berton, 90, died on April 16 from complications related to the coronavirus.

He grew up in Beverly, where he and his brother frequently spent time helping the fishermen in the family haul in their catch from the pier. From there, Berton embarked on a life devoted to service — first as a soldier during the Korean War and later as a social worker, professor, counselor, and community activist.

“When people say someone loved everyone, it seems like hyperbole,” his daughter said. “But my dad really loved everyone. And everyone he encountered knew it.”

Love was not all that drove Berton. He also had a fiery passion for stamping out injustice.

“He was unconditionally loving — but he was also filled with rage,” his daughter said. A rage she believes was born on that fishing pier in Beverly, where her father was often bullied for being Jewish. As he grew older, Berton channeled that anger into decisive and loving action.

He spent his career fighting against poverty and injustice on a number of fronts. In roles with Boston’s Model Cities Program and Columbia Point Community Health Center, he helped expand affordable housing and establish community clinics. He attended the 1963 March on Washington.

Berton later taught at Tufts School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he advocated on behalf of low-income students. He spent the rest of his career working in clinical practice and never gave up fighting for a kinder, more just world.

His family will remember Berton by two of his favorite verses of poetry, which he recited often: “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky,” and “My love is like a red, red rose.”


Scott Jennings, 67: He made people open up


Photograph of Scott Jennings

Joseph Romano Jr. was the first person in Massachusetts to be convicted of murder without a body.

He had Scott Jennings to thank. Sergeant Jennings, a State Police detective, helped persuade a jury to convict Romano of killing and dismembering his wife even though police never found Katherine Romano. The Quincy couple, it turned out, were about to split up.

The case was but one headline-making crime that Scott solved over his long career, including the attempted murder of Marianne Lewis in a Boston garage in 1989, the murder of Irene Kennedy in a Walpole park in 1998, and the 1992 corruption case against former state Representative John McNeil of Malden.

Friends described Scott, who died April 8 of COVID-19, as a brilliant investigator whose easy way with people made them open up. But they said, above all else, he was a big-hearted friend who drew people to him.

“First and foremost, he was my friend,” said John Kelly, a retired State Police lieutenant colonel who is now head of security at Emmanuel College, where Scott worked after retiring from the State Police in 2009.

“Give me a minute here,” Kelly said, choking back tears. “I never heard so many tough grown men and women cry. That’s the extent of feeling everyone has for Scott."

Scott’s wife, Maryellen, and the couple’s three daughters, Danielle, Erin and Kristen, recounted the family’s great adventures — the annual Memorial Day trip to Martha’s Vineyard; summers spent at the family cottage in Chatham; ski vacations and visits to Jack’s Abby Brewery in Framingham. On many outings, their golden retriever, Lexi, was by Scott’s side. His daughters called their father “our hero.”

It was fate that brought Maryellen and Scott together in 1974. She grew up in Milford; he was from Needham and their paths probably would not have crossed. But her mother, who had a job handing out samples of Tony’s Frozen Pizza at supermarkets, asked her reluctant daughter to take her place one Saturday.

There, at the Stop & Shop in Natick, she met Scott, who was working the deli counter while going to school and studying for the police civil service exam. He asked her to lunch at the Woolworth’s next door. “We had a hot dog and talked and talked and talked,” she said.

The couple was together ever since.

One day, a letter arrived from the State Police, Maryellen said. His 30th birthday was coming up, and at the time the force accepted only recruits younger than 30.

“I called him — you gotta get home!” she recalled. The letter said he was to report to the Academy on December 6, just weeks before his 30th birthday.

“We were elated. That was his lifelong dream," she said.

The drill instructor at the academy, John DiFava, saw that Jenning Scott looked older than the other recruits and gave him a nickname that stuck: “Gramps.”

“Gramps was a very tall guy," said State Police Captain Mary Sennott. "John DiFava looked up at him and said, ‘You’re too old to be here. Your nickname is going to be Gramps.’

"We still called him Gramps for 37 years,” she said.


David Coveney, 78: He made the music play


Photograph of David Coveney

David Coveney worked the controls at Boston’s WRKO-AM in the 1970s, making sure the Top 40 songs at the city’s top AM music station hit the airwaves without a hitch.

David, 78, who died April 4 from complications of the coronavirus, was a radio engineer at WRKO for years, until FM radio became more popular and he moved into television.

He did double duty as an engineer and cameraman at WSBK Channel 38 and WGBH Channel 2, where he worked on the 10 O’Clock News.

J.J. Jordan, a former WRKO disk jockey, befriended David in 1970, when they sat on the opposite sides of the glass.

“I told him what to play and he played it — a record or a commercial on tape,” said Jordan, who a few years later became the station’s program director. “He was a great technician.”

He was also hilarious.

David would try to break Jordan’s concentration while Jordan was working the overnight shift playing music and reading live commercials.

“He would take a wastebasket and light it on fire and hold it up,” Jordan said. “Many times I’d laugh and stumble over words. People had no idea what was wrong with me. I never explained to anybody, especially my boss.”

David was multi-talented — he could repair cars, was an expert skier, and wrote a book “Cypress Court,” that a WGBH colleague Steven Douglass wants to make into a movie. The story follows the plight of a family crippled by booze and poverty during the Vietnam War era, according to a snippet on Amazon.

In the early ’80s, David saved two young men from drowning in Breakheart Reservation in Saugus. “I’m not a hero,” he told WGBH’s paper, the Nooz. “Something had to be done and I did it.”

David’s son Jeff, a marketing executive and baseball aficionado who heads an adult baseball league in Boston, said his father was a constant presence in his life and the lives of Jeff’s wife, Rachel, and their three children, Maxwell, Megan, and Katelyn.

“My dad was an amazing father,” Jeff said. “I could never do any wrong in his eyes. He always supported me 100 percent. From the time I was a kid to now, he was there for every important moment in my life.”

David’s grandson Maxwell, 16, said his grandfather took an enormous interest in his life, too, always asking the teen to play the guitar for him and offering encouragement about life.

“A few years ago, I was going through a little depressed state,” Maxwell recalled. "He said it’ll pass. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. And he made me feel a lot better.”

And that’s exactly what David tried to do as he lay dying in his bed at Newton Wellesley Hospital — make his family feel better. The hospital staff gave David an iPad so he could speak to his family.

“We talked for about a half hour about how much we loved him,” his son said. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.’ “

David’s wife of more than 50 years, Helene, also tested positive for the coronavirus, but is improving, Jeff said.


Hope Dauwalter, 85: “She made things happen”


Photograph of Hope Dauwalter

Hope Dauwalter was always the first one to hit the dance floor. As a parent, she was the enthusiastic mom who traveled along on school ski trips and led the PTA.

“Hopey” to her friends, she lived 81 of her 85½ years in Newton. She died of complications of COVID-19 on April 1 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Hope’s crowning achievement was The Preschool Experience in Newton Centre. She co-founded the school when she was 46 and directed it for 16 years until her 1996 retirement.

She never forgot a student’s name and maintained Facebook friendships with many of them.

The preschool was such a hit that parents would register their newborns to reserve a spot for three and four years down the road.

Every step of the way, Hope was the magnet who drew everyone together for shared meals and outings — friends from kindergarten, a large band of first cousins, her independent-living neighbors.

“You never knew anyone more social than our mom,” said her son, Eric, 55. “She was always getting groups together.”

“Relaxing is not really something she did,” said her daughter, Robin Harmon. “She was always on the go.”

At 4-feet 11-inches, she was quite the dynamo. She liked to lead. She was competitive and driven but playful, too.

“She was a sweeter, softer version of aggressive or pushy,” her son said. "She made things happen.”

When the children were young, their home was headquarters for all. It was the place to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa after an afternoon of sledding.

Every year, Hope and her daughter planted a flower garden of gerbera daisies, poppies, and phlox. Instead of store-bought bread, they baked homemade bread every week.

She was 19 and working a summer job as a waitress on Cape Cod when she met MIT undergraduate Charles Robert Dauwalter, better known as Bob, or Dewey to close friends and family.

As the story goes, “she was at the beach hanging upside down from a tree and that’s how my dad met her,” her son said. They would wed four years later. They were married for nearly 62 years.

Bob Dauwalter, 86, fell ill with COVID-19 three days after his wife’s death. He pulled through after nine-plus days in the hospital, their son said.

In 2016, Hope and Bob Dauwalter moved to One Wingate Way, an independent living center in Needham. It wasn’t long until her son was calling his mother “the Mayor of Wingate.”

“She knew everyone and everyone knew her,” he said.

Even into her 80s, Hope remained a doer. She and Bob volunteered to make deliveries and drive the elderly to and from appointments.

“I’ve always remembered when she told me that her middle initial was 'I' and her maiden name was Duguid,” pronounced ‘do-good,’ a childhood friend of her children wrote in a tribute to their mother.

“Hope I do-good," Mary Moore Hurley wrote. “Well she certainly always lived up to that name. What a life well lived!”


James Power, 68: “Consummate family man”


Photograph of James Power

James Power believed in Sunday dinner. In the winters, he made his mother’s meat sauce. In the summers, he hauled out the grill.

The Arlington house he shared with his wife and three children filled up fast, with uncles, aunts, cousins, babies, and friends. And there was James, the calm at the center of the chaos in a waft of garlic or smoke. He wasn’t a talker, but he was always watching, and when a little one would zip past, he’d make a silly face or pluck a treasure from his pocket — candy, a ball, a brightly colored egg on Easter.

He knew just how to make them all smile. Even as he slipped into the haze of Alzheimer’s, he kept his gentle sense of humor and his quiet determination to take care of the people he loved.

“It was always about all of us, and never about him,” said his wife, Maura Power.

James Power died March 29, at age 68, of complications from the coronavirus. He had just recently moved out of his home to a memory care facility, where every single day, members of his sprawling family spilled inside to visit — the party following James, as usual.

“He was a consummate family man,” said his daughter, Michaela Power.

When his kids were little, James worked days managing sports facilities and nights cleaning and stripping grocery store floors. He could get by on four or five hours of sleep, and he always had time to help with the laundry, to have long conversations with Maura, to coach his kids in hockey and little league, or play pickup basketball in the driveway.

He had a way of teaching lessons without saying much. His kids could always hear him on the sidelines of their games — not yelling like other parents, just whistling loud and fast when he saw a stick too high, a slowing jog, a fantastic play. If they came off the field or the ice downcast, he never told them what to do next time. He just asked questions — what do you think happened? What went wrong? And if they didn’t want to talk, well that we fine, too — there was always Dunkin’ Donuts.

When his memory started to falter about eight years go, they all grieved the loss. But James could still garden, so he offered up a riot of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, snapdragons, and bright bulbs that Maura couldn’t even name. He kept the yard immaculate, not a blade of grass askew.

In the fall, he would collect the leaves that fell in the yard, and arrange them carefully on the counter for her to find. She thinks he mistook them for flowers. He was thinking of her even then.


Daniel Dewey, 76: A Marine through and through


Photograph of Daniel Dewey

Daniel Dewey and Michael Bellotti were on opposite sides of the political divide — a Republican and a Democrat — but that didn’t stop them from having a beer together in their hometown, Quincy.

Along with Daniel’s many other friends.

“I’d meet him for a beer at the Irish Pub maybe once a week,” said Bellotti, the former Norfolk County sheriff. “He loves politics, and we had the best eclectic group around the table — the butcher, the retired teacher, the city councilor, the Teamster, and me and him. We’d talk politics. You never knew who would be there.”

Daniel, 76, was a disabled Marine veteran who had survived cancer that he believed stemmed from his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. He spoke about his military service matter-of-factly and without self-pity, according to friends, but it shaped his whole life.

He was a longtime probation officer in the Quincy District Court and a member of the state Parole Board during the 1990s. He was also active in veteran’s affairs in Quincy and served as commandant of the William R. Caddy Marine Corps post.

“He took his Marine pedigree in helping veterans to another level,” said Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who lived down the street from Daniel in Quincy’s Squantum neighborhood. “He was always concerned about his fellow veterans, particularly disabled veterans.”

The staunch Democrat called Daniel “my favorite Republican.”

“He was a very practical person and knew how to compromise,” Morrissey said. “When he was on the parole board … he would be reasonable and take chances on people. I remember telling him to be careful — one mistake and they’ll hang you out to dry. But he said, 'I have a job to do and I’m going to do it. ' "

Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of Daniel’s Democratic friends — Bellotti — organized an outpouring of support for the ex-Marine after he succumbed to COVID-19 on April 3. Two nights later, friends and neighbors lined the streets to honor a man who knew nearly everyone in the tiny community on the Quincy shore.

They clutched American flags as Boston Police Officer Ed Boylan played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Daniel’s photo was placed on a stool in front of his house as his wife, recovering from her own COVID-19 infection, watched the tribute from inside.

Both Daniel and Kathleen became ill the week of March 15. Daniel was admitted to Mass. General on the 20th; his wife followed on the 21st.

Neither his wife nor his children were able to see him before he died. But their daughter, Aileen Quilty, said the outpouring from his friends “provided sort of closure." When she saw dozens of people outside her house, her mother was "shocked and then she cried.”

For all of Daniel’s work in the community, his daughter remembered him for his devotion to his wife, his children, and his five grandchildren.

“He’s been through a lot," she said. "But despite everything he went through, he wanted to make sure we were OK. He would hide a lot of information from me. He didn’t want me to worry.”


Julio Quintanilla, 60: From refugee to radio host


Photograph of Julio Quintanilla

He escaped civil war in El Salvador, fleeing to the United States with his partner, Ana Guzman, in 1988, finally settling in Somerville where they had family. He worked hard — in a curtain factory and as a part-time janitor — before attending broadcasting school in the 1990s, hoping to land a job in radio.

Julio Quintanilla eventually realized his dream, becoming both a DJ and a popular radio personality whose Spanish-language show, “Impacto Centroamericano,” aired daily on WUNR, 1600 AM, for more than 20 years. The show featured news, weather, and music, including a five-minute segment from a reporter in El Salvador.

His final show, which was pre recorded, aired about 20 minutes after his death on March 31, said his son, Xavier, one of his five children. Julio was 60.

“He was a voice for everybody who needed a voice,” said his son. “Organizations that need fund-raising — he did everything for them, everything for El Salvador and never charged anyone. He always did it for free.”

“My dad was an amazing human being,” he said. “He is somebody I always looked up to and wanted to be just like."

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, a family friend, called Julio’s death “gut-wrenching and heart-breaking." Xavier, a 2010 Somerville High graduate, coached one of the mayor’s sons in soccer.

“He was a hard-working guy, a great person with a great family. He was in good health and he isolated himself as it ravaged him. He was more worried about his family,” the mayor said.

The day he died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, his family was able to spend an hour with him. They left the hospital at 2 p.m.

At 4:15, the hospital called to say he had died. Julio’s final broadcast aired at 4:30 p.m.

Xavier said his dad would have wanted the show to go on: "He was devoted to his audience. It’s something he never considered a job. He had a passion for what he did.”

A GoFundMe page called “The Life of My Father” has been created to help the family with funeral expenses.


Richard Napoleon Ottaway, 88


Photograph of Richard Napoleon Ottaway

Here is another way to measure the effects of a plague, not in numbers, but by the life of one man.

Even at 88 years old, Richard Napoleon Ottaway would begin his days with a stack of important things to be read: Fresh copies of The New York Times, his local Cape Cod Times, and maybe some four-year-old edition of The New Yorker he might have lying around. The Bible was never far from his reach.

He was a man of God, a retired Episcopal priest, with a striking shock of white hair. He was a lover of oysters and wine, and a collector of bow ties, who treated the cultivation of friendships like a lifelong vocation. He watched and eagerly fed the wild birds that came to his property in Brewster, and, for him, a perfect day would end in an Adirondack chair, in quiet admiration of another Cape Cod sunset.

He died just after midnight on Monday in Cape Cod Hospital, unable to have any visitors, with a Bible in his hands. Test results that came back after his death were positive for COVID-19, according to his stepdaughter Rebecca Ashley and her husband, J.T. Rogers.

Dick’s wife, Elaine, who is 76, is also ill with COVID-19, and quarantined at home.

It is a hard thing for his family that they could not be with him in the hospital due to illness and the risk of infection. And they are keenly aware of the ironic tragedy that someone who had ministered to so many people near death died without family around him.

They prefer to look, however, at the elements of beauty at the end of his life, such as the nurse who offered her own family Bible so that Dick Ottaway could die with the Good Book in his hands, his family said.

Read more about Richard Napoleon Ottaway here.

Ted Monette, 74


Photograph of Ted Monette

All his life, Ted Monette walked willingly into danger.

As a colonel in the Army, he served in both Vietnam and the Gulf War. As an officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he oversaw operations at Ground Zero following 9/11 and later aided in the grisly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

It was a coronavirus infection at a nursing home for veterans, however, that eventually took his life.

Monette is one of at least six residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to die from complications of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in recent weeks. In all, 13 residents of the home died in March, and results of COVID-19 tests on several of the other victims are pending.

News of the facility’s outbreak rattled state and local officials this week, casting a shadow over the facility and its now-suspended superintendent, Bennett Walsh. It has raised questions among families who have recently lost relatives at the home about which deaths can be traced back to the virus, while adding a layer of grief for those whose loved ones are known to have succumbed to the virus.

“He is one of those people who shouldn’t be forgotten,” said Monette’s son, Greg. “He’s one of thousands of unsung or quiet heroes who have been the fabric of this country for a long time, and they’re the ones who have made the most and sacrificed the most for all of us, and it’s important for people to know.”

Read more about Ted Monette here.

Larry Rasky, 69


Photograph of Larry Rasky

Larry Rasky helped guide the campaigns of several top Democratic candidates, and was close to Joe Biden, the former vice president and current front-runner for his party’s Democratic presidential nomination. Last fall Rasky had helped launch Unite the Country, a super PAC to support Biden’s White House bid.

“He was a real friend,” Biden told the Globe. "He was also generous and sharp and he just had a spirit about him. His passion for politics was amazing.”

Read more about Larry Rasky here.

Michael McKinnell, 84

Photograph of Michael McKinnell

When Michael McKinnell and his partner, Gerhard Kallmann, won a competition in the early 1960s to design Boston’s City Hall, they predicted it might stand for a century, or maybe five. The source of such longevity can be found in the building’s defining material.

“The characteristic of concrete that we enjoyed most was that one material could do so much, and could be seen to do so much,” Mr. McKinnell said in an interview for the book “Heroic,” in 2009. “It could be the structure. It could be the cladding. It could be the floors, it could be the walls. There’s a kind of all-through-ness about it.”

He added: “I think if we could have done it, we would have used concrete to make the light switches.”

Mr. McKinnell, whose first building as an architect was City Hall, and whose designs with Kallmann helped redefine Boston’s look as the city reinvigorated itself in the 1960s and ’70s, died of pneumonia Friday. He was 84 and had tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. McKinnell had moved full time to his Rockport vacation home a few years ago, after having lived in the Back Bay.

Honored and maligned, praised mightily and insulted dismissively, City Hall has withstood it all, celebrating its 50th anniversary last year.

Read more about Michael McKinnell here.

Fred Harris, 70: “He loved March Madness”


Photograph of Fred Harris

An all-star athlete, Fred Harris grew up in Amherst competing in whichever sport was in season — football, basketball, and his favorite, baseball.

In high school, he played shortstop with such skill that he attracted the notice of Red Sox scouts, relatives said.

But Fred’s big-league dreams crumbled when he was drafted into the Army to serve in Vietnam. He proudly served two years, said his widow, Judy.

Fred, 70, of Northampton, died March 25 at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

In ordinary years, “March was his time,” Judy said. “He loved March Madness."

Fred was a friendly man, the type to wave at strangers. He was warm and lively with an exuberant laugh. He nursed a daily lottery-ticket habit and waddled a bit when he walked, the result of two hip replacements.

“He was just a friendly sort of person,” Judy said.

Judy was 17 and Fred was 22 when they met at Tower Pizza in Amherst. For their first date, they played tennis at Smith College, even though neither one of them really knew how to play, she said.

The couple were married 49 years and had two children, a daughter, Nicole, and a son, Eric.

The University of Massachusetts was Fred Harris’ longtime employer — since two years before he was drafted and up until he retired in 2003. He was part of the grounds crew for a time. Then he worked in central receiving, delivering mail and packages across campus, where everyone knew him, his wife said.

He was very attached to Snickers, the couple’s terrier mix. They’d take walks or sit on the porch while Fred waved at passersby. They were a pair of social butterflies, Judy said.

Snickers died in September. Fred still was grieving when he passed away last month.

“When we lost her, we lost a part of us,” Judy Harris said. “Fred took it real hard."


Sergio Aguilar, 61: Big in heart and body


Photograph of Sergio Aguilar

In the photograph his family loves the most, Sergio Aguilar is beaming, his strong arms spread wide to hold as many of his daughters and granddaughters as he can reach. His wife and mother smile in the foreground. He’s in back, but he’s the center they’ve all gathered around.

That was Sergio: ebullient and beloved, big in heart and body, a warm embrace to come home to. Every time one of his three granddaughters walked into his house, he would call out: “Come here my pretty girl, give me a hug! You know I love you so much.”

He collected umbrellas so that none of his three daughters would ever get caught in the rain. He was always searching for the “perfect” wheelchair to send to his mother back in his home country of El Salvador. He never forgot Valentine’s Day.

Sergio Aguilar, of Waltham, died March 28 at age 61. His family can’t imagine a world without him in it, taking care of them in ways large and small, reminding them: “Anything you need, just call me.”

He was born in San Salvador, said his daughter, Jessica Aguilar. Around 1980, when civil war made life too dangerous, he and his future wife fled to America. Sergio and Yolanda Aguilar got married in 1986.

Sergio worked hard to buy a home for his family in Waltham, holding a collection of jobs at places like Dunkin’ Donuts or Polaroid before landing a custodial position at Brandeis University in 1995. He worked overtime and picked up side jobs, but he never complained.

He raised his three girls with warmth and discipline, insistent that they work hard, study hard, support themselves, save their money, pay bills on time. He taught them to defend themselves, to use tools and work a snowblower. His love was tough, but it was wide and deep and gentle, too.

When Jessica got pregnant at 20, she was terrified to tell him, because she thought he’d be furious. Instead, he laughed and said, “Now it’s your turn to be a parent!” Then he called everyone he knew, brimming with joy.

He was crazy for his granddaughters; he always had at least one little girl hanging off him. He would take them for slushies and ice cream and watch movies with them curled up on the couch. When any of his girls asked for pupusas, handmade stuffed-and-griddled tortillas, he would drive straight to East Boston, insisting that not all pupusas were the same.

Sergio never lost his love for his home country. When he visited, he’d bring clothes and phones and electronics — once, even a microwave — to give to people in need. He dreamed of paying off the Waltham home, giving it to his daughters, and retiring to San Salvador in a cottage on the beach. Of course, he would return to help with his granddaughters.

Whenever his family called him, he answered. “I’m coming.”


Lois Brettschneider, 82: A voice for children


Photograph of Lois Brettschneider

Retirement didn’t suit Lois Brettschneider. Bored as soon as she stepped away from her longtime job in November 2016 as an ophthalmic technician in Fitchburg, she found a new direction as a court-appointed special advocate.

The work brought her into the lives of children from homes scarred by abuse or neglect. Lois traveled for miles in a blue Subaru sedan to meet with children in person, and then prepare reports used by the courts to make custody decisions.

“They were all meaningful to her. She really took each one seriously,” said her daughter, Pam Cook, a surgical nurse from Westminster.

Lois, 82, a grandmother and great grandmother, died March 30 at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster.

She grew up in Reading with her parents and brother, Robert Doiron. During childhood, their summers included trips to North Salem, N.H., and a cottage owned by an aunt and uncle in nearby Derry, Doiron said. Back in Reading, they walked to school and passed the time by playing Scrabble and cribbage.

“When we were little, there were no televisions,” Doiron said.

Lois attended a 4-H camp in Ashby, and that’s where she and Priscilla Carter, her friend since kindergarten, met their future husbands.

Lois married Thomas Walker and they settled in Ashby, where the couple’s three children grew up amid “hundreds of acres that were our domain,” said her son Scott, who lives in Winthrop, Maine.

Thomas Walker died in 1984, and Lois later married Alfred Brettschneider, her traveling companion for destinations in Europe and beyond. He died in 2006.

Another love in her life was her dog Katie, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, who died last year.

Before the pandemic, Lois’s children said they planned to travel soon to Paris and then tour other parts of Europe. They scheduled the now-cancelled trip to conclude in time for a family celebration on May 5. It would have been her 83rd birthday.


Barbara Levine, 77: “Just keep going”


Photograph of Barbara Levine

Cancer was no match for Barbara Levine. Beginning at age 39, she was diagnosed multiple times with the disease, each time the illness invading her body in a different form.

But at the end of every bout, Barbara emerged with her health and future, amazing her family and providers at Massachusetts General Hospital by beating the odds.Her daughter, Risa Tracey, said Barbara endured by following her father’s advice.

“In difficult times, if you keep going, you’ll be OK,” Barbara used to say. “Don’t lie down. Just keep going.”

But her decades-long battle against cancer came with a cost, including the loss of a lung about two decades ago. It put her on fragile footing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, said her son, Jon.

Barbara died at MGH on March 31. She was 77 and had spent the last decade of her life as a resident of the Jack Satter House in Revere, where eight residents have died from the coronavirus.Her apartment offered views of Revere Beach and the Boston skyline.

“She lived knowing that she was given a new lease on life after she came back from something, one of her medical setbacks,” her son said. “She was less and less concerned about the future and just thankful that she had more time that she could be around.”

In her work life, she flourished during her time as a travel agent, helping families plan vacations and traveling herself.

Barbara’s taste buds must have been programmed with memory chips because she could recall details about long-ago lunches and dinners savored in the North End, Chinatown, and elsewhere, relatives said.

In February, Barbara had received a clean bill of health from her doctor, a milestone after she was treated for colon cancer last year, her son said. As she’d done after previous illnesses, she celebrated by planning a trip to France with her eldest granddaughters, who are in college.

The itinerary started in Paris and would take the women south to Monaco and Cannes. From there, they would cross the Mediterranean Sea for another adventure and take in sights in Italy.


Frederick Schwab, 87: “He was my hero”


Photograph of Frederick Schwab

Frederick Schwab came home from basic training in 1950 and took his younger sister to see a movie at a RKO theater near their family’s home in the Bronx.

So dapper was Fred, then 17, in his Army uniform that other cinema patrons refused to let him pay, said his sister, Francine Fitzgerald.

“He was my hero,” she said.

Fred, a decorated Korean War veteran for whom an American flag once flew over the US Capitol, died April 5 at Norwood Hospital. Before the hospitalization, Fred, 87, spent a few weeks at Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center in Norwood, which experienced a deadly outbreak of COVID-19.

He was 10 years older than his sister, but the age difference had no bearing on their bond. About 11 years ago, he moved into Francine’s home in Norwood after becoming a widower for the second time.

Living with her brother again, Francine said she realized he was easy-going almost to a fault. It was sometimes hard to tell whether he needed help.

“He never complains,” she said. “If he cut his finger off, he wouldn’t tell you.”

While he was deployed during the Korean War, she said, Fred asked her to keep him informed of the top songs featured on a radio show sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. Each week, she listened, pad and paper handy, then mailed the list to him.

In recent years, he spent hours watching black-and-white movies and westerns starring John Wayne. He loved the television drama “NCIS” and proudly wore a black baseball hat featuring the show’s logo that he bought from a sidewalk vendor during a trip to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

About 25 years ago, Fred began collecting an unusual item: rubber ducks. It all started as a joke with his niece, Peggy Schmidt, an Air National Guard veteran.

The first rubber duck in his collection sat atop a computer, and a flock soon followed. One was dressed as a Pilgrim. Another had a unicorn horn and a pink bill. Rubber ducks wearing costumes for Santa Claus, a jack-o’- lantern, and a bee made it into the collection.

His sister said she has thought about what to do with the colorful toys.

Each fall, veterans gather for a picnic in Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz., where his niece lives. There’s a creek near the picnic site, and Francine has a vision: a flotilla of rubber ducks racing through the water in Fred’s honor.


Betty Demastrie, 81: “Always kind”


Photograph of Betty Demastrie

John Demastrie remembers the girl and the car and the kiss with the same jolt he felt more than 60 years ago.

Betty Demastrie: beautiful and funny and smart and classy, a farmer’s daughter with strong arms and red lipstick. All the boys loved her, but she had agreed to go for a ride with him, in his junker with its broken radiator. And he thought he was doing a pretty good job impressing her, until he pulled up to her house in Cheshire, Mass., and saw the 1957 black and white Chevy with the red interior.

“Whose car is that?” he asked. She said it was hers, and he burned with embarrassment.

But then she kissed him, and that was it. She scared the hell out of him, and he was smitten. They got married 10 years later.

Elizabeth “Betty” Demastrie — who had two children and four grandchildren, who wrote “roasts” for her three cherished sisters on their birthdays, and who loved to dance the polka because it always made her smile — died March 30 at the age of 81.

“We all thought she was invincible,” said her daughter, Tina Lippman. Just nine years ago, Demastrie had survived a double aneurysm, shocking her doctors by walking herself into the emergency room to report a headache.

Betty was strong and practical, quick-witted and loving.

As a teenager, she spooked her father’s cows while practicing her cheerleading moves and Russian jumps as she waited for the milk pails to fill. She pitched bales of hay faster than any of the local boys. As a young woman, she always set aside some of her paycheck from her secretarial job at General Electric for clothes for her sisters.

And as a mother and grandmother, she was there to meet every need, with generosity and without question. She sewed costumes for school plays late at night, converting curtains and doilies into George Washington’s pants and ruffled collar. She saved buttons and trinkets to whip out when her grandkids had to make poster boards.

She tucked two generations of children into bed with the same Polish lullaby. When Betty’s adult son struggled, she and her husband took in his three children and built an addition onto their home.

“She just did what she had to do,” Tina said. “She was a good person. Unassuming. Always kind.”

And always surprising. On her daughter’s wedding day, Betty wrote her a song. In the days since her mother’s death, Tina has read and reread the lyrics, feeling her mother’s specialness, her heart and her wit, and how much she would want her family to know she loved them.

“I laughed with you. I cried with you. I walked with you. I dreamed with you," Betty wrote. "And if my dreams. Should all come true. The best still lies. Ahead for you.”