Published On: Sun, Apr 12th, 2020

Some … of many: Those we’ve lost to coronavirus

They are our friends, our neighbors; people of renown, and just regular people.  “Sunday Morning” takes a moment to remember just a few of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic:

John Prine (1946-2020)
A singer-songwriter revered by other songwriters, John Prine grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, and after a stint in the Army, he became a mailman, writing songs as he delivered letters. He was just 23 when he performed at a local coffee house one night in 1970, and got really lucky. “Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times stopped by,” Prine told Anthony Mason for “Sunday Morning” in 2018. “And instead of writing about the movie that he walked out on, he wrote about me. ‘Singing Mail Man Delivers The Message.’ And from that day on I didn’t have an empty seat!”

Prine’s eponymous debut album, in 1971, became an instant classic, with songs like “Sam Stone,” “Paradise,” and “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.”

He twice survived cancer, including a squamous cell cancer in 1998, which cost him the ability to sing for a year following surgery. But his recording output, though under the radar to many, was prodigious. Over five decades he released 18 studio albums and four live recordings. His most recent, 2018’s “The Tree of Forgiveness,” debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts.  

In the song “When I Get to Heaven” Prine wrote:

When I get to Heaven I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings
Than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock ‘n’ roll band
Check into a swell hotel
Ain’t the afterlife grand!

John Prine, the “Singing Mailman,” delivers again

Patricia Bosworth (1933-2020)
Actress Patricia Bosworth studied under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. She worked on Broadway and appeared in the TV shows “Naked City” and “The Patty Duke Show.” She played a nun opposite Audrey Hepburn in the 1959 film “The Nun’s Story.”

Bosworth then turned her focus to journalism, writing for The New York Times and New York magazine and Vanity Fair. She also wrote biographies of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Jane Fonda and photographer Diane Arbus. Her memoirs included 1998’s “Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story,” and 2017’s “The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan.”

Hal Willner (1956-2020)
The longtime music supervisor for “Saturday Night Live,” Hal Willner selected music for “SNL” skits since 1980. He also produced albums for Lucinda Williams, Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull. Willner also curated tribute albums and projects for Nino Rota, Thelonious Monk, and Tim Buckley.

Jason Hargrove (c. 1970-2020)
In a video he posted on Facebook on March 21, Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove railed against a passenger, a woman who thoughtlessly coughed several times without guarding others in the vicinity. “We’re out here as public workers, doing our job, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families,” Hargrove said. “But for you to get on the bus, and stand on the bus, and cough several times without covering up your mouth, and you know that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, that lets me know that some folks don’t care.” His Facebook video has been viewed more than 790,000 times.

Less than two weeks later, Hargrove, a married father of six, died from complications of COVID-19.

Paris Guy Laroche
French fashion designer Guy Laroche drapes fabric around Leila Menchari, the model he discovered in Tunisia, at his workshop in Paris, France, Nov. 9, 1958.


Leila Menchari (1927-2020)
For 35 years the Tuinisian painter, model and designer was chief window designer at Hermès, creating fantastic scenes at the fashion house’s Paris flagship store. 

“She taught us to look at the world through the prism of color. She was a storyteller without equal that enchanted the world,” Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, told Women’s Wear Daily.

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

Dempsey spent 11 seasons in the NFL, beginning with the Saints, and then with the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills. He kicked straight-on with a flat-front shoe that drew protests from some who saw the specially-made kicking shoe as an unfair advantage. But Dempsey would counter by saying he was merely doing the best he could to use the foot with which he was born, and for the most part, NFL officials, including then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle, agreed.

Both the shoe with which Dempsey kicked the 63-yarder and the ball are in the Saints Hall of Fame in New Orleans, into which Dempsey was inducted in 1989.

Kevin Leiva (1996-2020)
Kevin Leiva was a 24-year-old EMT in North Bergen, N.J., and at Saint Clare’s Dover Hospital. Kara Connolly, his partner at Saint Clare’s, told, “He’s so selfless. He did everything for anybody.”

Leilani Jordan (1992-2020)
Leilani Jordan, 27, worked part time at a Giant Food supermarket in Largo, Md. Her mother, Zanobia Shepherd, told the Washington Post she had warned her daughter about the hazards of being out in public during the coronavirus pandemic, but explained that Jordan, who had a cognitive disability and was reliant on a service dog, was determined to help elderly customers navigate the store during the early shift.

“She said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work because no one else is going to help the senior citizens get their groceries,'” Shepherd told the Post. “She only stopped going to work when she could no longer breathe.”

Michael McKinnell (1935-2020)
The British-born architect was just 26 when, as a graduate student at Columbia University, he won a design competition for a new city hall in Boston in the Brutalist style. In moving to Massachusetts, he co-founded an architectural firm which would design Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, the headquarters of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, and Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor Center. 

Sandra Santos-Vizcaino (1965-2020)
Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, who taught third grade at an elementary school in Brooklyn, was a more than 20-year veteran of the city’s school system. She was recognized for her contributions to education in the Dominican Republic, and won a grant to study bird sanctuaries there in 2009. She was the first New York City school teacher reported to have died of COVID-19.

Vincent Lionti (1959-2020)
A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, Vincent Lionti was a violist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 33 seasons. He previously played with the New York Philharmonic and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He was also artistic director of The Memling Ensemble, and a member of the PBS All-Star Orchestra, New England Baroque Soloists and the Westchester Camerata. He was also conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony, in Westchester County, N.Y.

Kious Kelly (1971-2020)
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Kious Jordan Kelly came to New York in pursuit of a career in performing arts, but instead graduated from the nursing program at NYU. An Assistant Nurse Manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, Kelly’s death from coronavirus on March 24 put a spotlight on the dangerous shortage of masks, gowns and other supplies for health care workers.

Sergio Rossi (1935-2020)
The luxury footwear designer was one of the leading figures in the Italian fashion industry. The son of a bespoke shoemaker, he founded his own brand in the late 1960s, and was known for such designs as his signature Godiva stiletto pumps. His shoes adorned the feet of celebrities from Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o to Laura Dern.

David Driskell (1931-2020)
A multimedia artist who used the trees around his Falmouth, Maine, cabin home as a feature in his work, David Driskell was one of the nation’s most influential African American artists, and a leading authority on black art. 

Driskell, who went to Maine in the 1950s to study at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, would go on to author several books and more than 40 catalogs. He curated the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” in the 1970s, a show pivotal in paving the way for the study of African American art history.

Wilhelm Burmann (1939-2020)
The German-born Wilhelm Burmann was a principal dancer for the Frankfurt Ballet, Grand Théâtre du Genève, and the Stuttgart Ballet. He was also a ballet master for the Washington Ballet and the Ballet du Nord. In New York City he taught ballet classes at Steps on Broadway beginning in 1984, where he was known for his regal, intimidating and witty demeanor emphasizing discipline among his students.

“You had no time to think,” Alessandra Ferri, a former American Ballet Theater principal dancer, said of Burmann’s instructions to The New York Times. “You had to learn to trust your body.”

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