Laid off as a human resources manager, Cate began picking locks -- and cracking safes.
He formed All-American Lock and Key. The name was a call-back to his twice-earned honors as a collegiate shot-putter at Louisiana Tech.
In his business, he opened locked cars, installed and cracked safes, and lent his expertise to local drug task force officers who needed to get inside suspects' vaults, said his wife, Abby Cate, 52.
Cate's midlife career change demonstrated his ability to learn on the fly.
"He's the most intelligent man I've ever known," Abby said. "He could read about something and figure things out and had all kinds of skills. ... He could do pretty much anything he set his mind to."
Cate loved the outdoors, particularly deer hunting. He was a bit of a smart aleck, often sarcastic, and had a great sense of humor, his wife said. He was also a keen observer.
"He would see a situation and pick out one little thing that perhaps everyone else overlooked," Abby said. "But he saw the details. He saw the little things. That's really what made him an excellent husband and a fantastic father."
Cate's lengthy battle with covid-19 began with feeling ill in mid-February, around the time the state experienced a historic snowfall.
He was first admitted to the Medical Center of South Arkansas and later transferred to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock. Overall, he spent about a month hospitalized, his condition mostly declining.
On March 9, Abby, their two kids and Steven's father went to the hospital to say their goodbyes. Abby was allowed in with her husband.
"I took my phone in the room, and I called the kids, who were waiting just outside the room, looking in," Abby said. "I put [the phone] on speaker and put it up to his ear. They all got to say whatever it was that they needed to say."
Strong -- called "Faye" by family, friends and co-workers -- loved to give, said her daughter Amber Strong-Holland.
Raised in modest circumstances in Tucker, Strong grew up generous with friends, co-workers and her five now-grown children. She loved to help anyone: offering rides to appointments, keeping busy with dishes or laundry when visiting her kids, and staying in near-constant communication with her daughters.
"When 12 o'clock rolls around, she will be calling on her lunch break," Strong-Holland said. "I looked forward every day to those talks."
It was not unusual for her mother to strike up a conversation and make a friend in the grocery store aisle. She was beloved by colleagues at a variety of jobs, including at Maybelline in North Little Rock and a nursing home in England -- so much so that past employers reached out after her illness to express condolences.
One of Strong's most cherished roles, however, was grandmother to 19 grandchildren.
"Anytime you see her, she'd have a few grandchildren with her. ... If she wasn't in my home with my children, she'd be in my sister's house with her children, or my brother's house with his children," Strong-Holland said. "She loved those grandchildren, and those grandchildren loved her."
After being hospitalized with covid-19 on Jan. 24, Strong remained upbeat. Before she was placed on a ventilator, her children played a favorite song at her bedside, to Strong's delight, the gospel-spiritual piece "Wave My Hand."
"She was in there, laughing and tapping her feet," her daughter recalled.
As a coming-home gift, Strong-Holland planned to surprise her mom with a purple Nike fleece suit in a style she had admired. Strong died March 3. The suit stayed in a closet, unworn.
"She used to always tell us kids that, 'I won't be here with y'all always,'" Strong-Holland said. "I never thought that saying would hit so hard, so soon."
The longtime state employee spent his life giving back to his community through his work writing state tax codes, volunteer time on education and senior citizen issues, and involvement at his high school alma mater, his son said.
"He's the person we all wanted to be when we grew up," son Greg Zimpel said.
John Zimpel worked for the state for more than 30 years. Much of his career was spent at the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division. He wrote large parts of Arkansas' tax code.
After retirement, he volunteered with the American Association for Retired Persons, utilizing his expertise in governmental operations to help the nonprofit. He recently was named lead advocate for Hub 2 in Central Arkansas, educating legislators about AARP's positions on issues such as health care, housing and food insecurity among senior citizens.
He had two children and four older sisters.
"He was always a very giving person, and he was passionate about the work that he did for the state," his oldest sister, Mary Smith, said.
Zimpel's son recalled going to horse races with his father, sometimes to Las Vegas. The two also went to baseball games. John Zimpel particularly liked the Cardinals and any sport the Razorbacks played. He also enjoyed playing guitar, especially blues and jazz.
He graduated from Subiaco Academy in western Arkansas, and the faith and friends developed there remained an important part of Zimpel's life, according to his son. He volunteered at the school.
"He really cared," his son said. "He put himself last, he was that type of person."
CORRECTION: John Zimpel had four older sisters. A previous version of this page incorrectly stated the number of sisters he had.
She made friends of complete strangers right up until she was placed on a ventilator.
A nurse herself, Melton befriended nurses at Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway. After her death, they attended her funeral, said her husband of 30 years, Patrick Melton.
The two met while Jennifer was studying nursing at the University of Central Arkansas and were engaged after just a few months together, on Valentine's Day.
They are parents of triplets -- Jeb, Cole and Kantin -- and she loved following her sons' sports teams around the state to watch them play basketball and baseball. The three are high school seniors. "Those boys were her world," Patrick said.
He recalled one Christmas when one of the boys' friends mentioned that he didn't know if his family could afford to get presents. Jennifer rallied community members to make sure they had Christmas dinner and plenty of gifts.
Her work as a nurse was part of a lifelong effort to leave a positive impact on the world around her, Patrick said.
The largest part of her career was spent as a home health nurse and managing a home health agency. She and Patrick also co-owned the Pizza Ranch in Conway.
At home, she cooked most of her family's meals. Chicken and dumplings were among her specialties.
The two shared in their Christian faith, which Patrick said has helped him get through this time.
"Knowing the Lord, it sure makes things like this easier," he said. "That hope that we're going to see her again one day when we get in heaven, it makes it better."
Her family established a scholarship in Jennifer's name. One requirement is for students to write about how to make a "positive impact on everybody you talk to," her husband said, because that embodies the person Jennifer was.
Judy Stofferhan was smart; she got her bachelor’s degree in psychology through an online school.
Stofferhan’s parents held a graduation ceremony at home for Judy when she finished school. She made the dean’s list and president’s list multiple times during her studies.
The three were close – they lived together in Jacksonville until they were hospitalized in January with covid-19.
“Judy was a smart young lady,” Adrian Hummel said. “She knew I really cared about her a lot.”
Hummel married Stofferhan’s mother, Pamela Hummel, after Stofferhan was already grown. When the two met, she threw her arms around him and said, “Welcome to our family, dad.”
Pamela Hummel died a few days before her daughter. Although Adrian Hummel has since recovered, he still has long-term symptoms.
He considered Judy his daughter. The two would often sit in the living room of their home together while Judy crocheted blankets, which she gave out as gifts.
Sometimes, they had special “daddy-daughter” dinners together. She’d ask him for life advice and they’d sit talking and “having a grand old time,” he said.
When the three were hospitalized, Adrian went to see Judy first. Geared up in protective equipment, he went to her room and stayed with her for about 45 minutes. She had on a mask to help her breathe. At the end of the visit, he kissed her forehead before leaving, he said.
“I’ve never seen someone so scared in my life,” he said.
He’s since gotten vaccinated, and although he’s relieved, he wishes the same opportunity had been available to his family, he said.
When Pamela Hummel was first getting to know her future husband, and his father fell ill, she hopped on a bus to Arkansas to support him.
The pair met online, and the first time they spoke, they stayed on the phone for two hours, her husband Adrian Hummel said. When his father had a stroke, Pamela took the Greyhound bus from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to visit Adrian. He greeted her with purple irises and a teddy bear.
His father died soon after, and the two have been together ever since. They were married in November 2007, just a few months after meeting.
Pamela, whom Adrian called Pam, had a daughter and a granddaughter. Her daughter, Judy Stofferhan, died of covid just a few days after Pam.
“Everything that Judy did, Pam wanted to be involved with,” Adrian said. He was hospitalized at the same time as Pam and Judy, and although he has some long-term symptoms, he’s largely recovered.
Pam worked at a Burger King for many years, some of that time as a manager. She was an excellent cook, and her specialties included meatloaf and spaghetti.
Adrian and Pam had a lot in common, he said – a love of cooking and preference for blue cheese dressing, for example.
“We were just matching more and more,” he said.
For his 50th birthday, she made a red velvet cake and threw a big party. He suspects she was planning something elaborate for his upcoming 60th, too.
When the three were in the hospital, Adrian went to see both Pam and Judy. Although Pam couldn’t talk back, he stayed with her and talked to her like “everything was normal,” he said.
“I’m the only one left here in Arkansas,” Adrian said. “I’m all alone.”
The manufacturing plant operator also served as the men's pastor at his church, The Ridge Assembly of Sherwood.
If any church men needed love, counseling or prayer, no matter day or time, they called Waldrop, according to his wife, Shelia.
"He took that job very seriously," she said. "There were times people called him in the middle of the night. He would pray with them, visit with them. To be such an introvert, he was out there on the front lines."
The couple met in March of 1989, when Shelia was having lunch with her best friend. Her friend's brother, Marty, joined them. They married two months later. They have three children and 13 grandchildren.
Marty raced motorcycles for American Honda when he was younger and loved the outdoors, camping and kayaking.
Both were careful during the pandemic, limiting outings to work, grocery shopping and church. His wife believes she contracted the virus first, in November.
She felt mostly fatigue. He did too, but also experienced breathing problems. He was ill for about two weeks before being hospitalized Nov. 30. He was intubated Dec. 4, and on a ventilator for 68 days, she said.
"We were married 31 years," said his wife. "I was looking forward to another 131, but God had other plans."
Guzman was a "vibrant" woman whom people were naturally drawn to, said her sister, Liz Vaughn.
"She had a very adventurous spirit, always," even as a child, Vaughn said of her younger sibling. "She wasn't ever really afraid to try new things or do new things. She was the one that was kind of out there, living big."
A soprano with a wide vocal range and a magnetic smile, Guzman adored music and performance. She was active in student operas in college and appeared in The Weekend Theater productions, such as "Sweeney Todd," in Little Rock.
As an adult, she led music for contemporary services at Little Rock's Second Presbyterian Church when she wasn't working at Legacy Termite & Pest Control's offices.
Her outgoing personality led to a happenstance meeting with her future husband, Alex, when the pair struck up conversation at a sushi restaurant where he worked. They married and had a daughter and a son, now ages 6 and 2. "Once she had those kids, that was it. That was her biggest thing. She just loved being a mom so much," Vaughn said. As soon as her daughter could sit still, Guzman began sharing her love for the arts, taking the child to see the musical "Newsies."
When Guzman first learned of the pandemic, she knew she had to be cautious because of medication she took that weakened her immune system. She got tested for covid-19 "anytime she got the sniffles," Vaughn said.
Her health began to deteriorate last fall. Shortly after Christmas, she was admitted to a North Little Rock hospital, where a lung biopsy revealed a commonplace fungal infection -- an ailment most people clear without treatment, according to her sister.
As an inpatient, she became ill with a bacterial infection and then tested positive for covid-19 for the first time. The family believes she contracted the virus in the hospital because she'd tested negative when she was admitted.
Hospitalized more than a month, Guzman would seem to gain ground "and then she'd fall backwards a little bit again. That was really hard," Vaughn said.
Howard was a mechanical whiz who taught himself how to troubleshoot, and repair electronic and computer system issues as the repairman-turned-"guru" at Riggs Cat.
At home he'd hold forth on the science-fiction worlds of "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and Harry Potter, as film-watching with his wife and son morphed into "nerd-out" sessions.
Howard also camped and hunted. He piloted helicopters. In college, his tenor voice helped land the lead in the musical "High Society."
He was, his wife, Julie, wrote in his obituary, a "Renaissance man" with an extraordinary mind and a variety of interests.
Howard could "have his hands covered in grease and stand there and talk to you about philosophy or something in history or the latest tech thing," said Julie Howard, a 54-year-old psychologist.
He and Julie, married 25 years, were cautious with covid-19. They celebrated their silver anniversary last year with takeout from McClard's Bar-B-Q in Hot Springs, consumed at a North Mountain picnic area.
It's not clear how Howard contracted the virus. Given the onset of the symptoms, it's likely he caught it first and passed it to his wife and son, who both survived.
Howard, who had no known previous medical issues, battled covid-19 for a month.
He tested positive Jan. 4 after a bout with a cough, fatigue and fever. On Jan. 9, he was admitted to Baptist Health Medical Center in Malvern.
"I love you. They're intubating," David wrote in a text to his wife on Jan. 15, his last message to her. He died a little more than two weeks later at Baptist Health Medical Center, where he'd been transferred.
"Everybody was just stunned," Julie said. "'He's young, he's strong. ... Why is he this sick?' There's no answer to that question that I've been given."
Hasain wanted to help others.
He did it by following in the footsteps of his older brother, William El-Amin, and starting a career in security and later in law enforcement.
Both brothers worked at what is now the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center, a youth detention facility in Alexander. Hasain went on to work at the Arkansas State Hospital, while William stepped into a role at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Police Department.
"No matter what, we were raised to make sure that we help people and use whatever position that we have to help as many people as we can," William said. "My brother took that to heart."
Hasain worked for about 15 years in security and law enforcement. He also taught concealed carry safety courses, work his brother plans to continue.
The brothers got their families together often for cookouts. The two had an ongoing feud to determine who made the best barbecue, and they'd prepare enough meat to feed many more than the six or seven gathered.
They'd donate the leftovers, his brother said.
Hasain was sick for only a couple of weeks, and the family thought he was getting better. He had asthma before contracting covid-19, but he was young and healthy. So his death at home was a shock.
He left behind three children and his wife, as well as a sister and parents, his brother said.
"He was a good family man," he said. "He was a good uncle. He was a good cousin. He was always trying to plan and do family activities. It's hard to find anything really bad to say about my brother. He was a really genuine, all around good person."
Since his brother's death, William says he's become an advocate for social distancing and mask wearing.
"Do not wait to go to the hospital," he said. "Follow the precautions. It really hurts me to my heart when I see people out here that refuse to wear a mask."
When it came to cars, Parker could fix just about anything.
She learned how when she was just 10, mimicking her older brothers. As she got older, she got better at repairing cars than her brothers were. During her lifetime, she owned two shops – Teresa's Autobody and Auto Image -- her daughter, Tiffany Scott, said.
"Her life's dream was to work on cars and fix people's cars. She was just magnificent at it, this was 20-plus years ago. You didn't see a lot of females that can work on cars then. She did it all," Scott added.
Parker had a son and daughter and two grandchildren whom she loved more than anything.
She had heart trouble and needed a polyp removed from her lung. She'd been careful not to leave the house until she had to go to the hospital, and the surgery in December went well. But four days later, she tested positive for covid-19.
She developed blood clots, and hospital workers let her phone on a video call with Scott after they took her off the ventilator, about 30 minutes before she died. When Scott spoke, her mother struggled to move her face closer to the phone.
"I would have a mom today if it wasn't for covid," Scott said. "It's not fair."
After her mother's death, Scott found Christmas presents for the kids in her mom's home – baby dolls for her granddaughter and hoodies for her teenage grandson. Parker left her daughter a letter and a ring.
"It's almost like she knew that she wasn't coming home from this hospital trip," Scott said.
Scott recalled days growing up when once a year, Parker would let each of her kids skip school for a special day with their mom. They'd sit at a restaurant for hours, ordering whatever food came to mind and talking. Afterward, they'd go to their mom's auto shop, playing Pink on the way, and learn how to fix cars.
"It's those memories that I'll hold forever," said Scott, who can still change her own oil.
Sporting her favorite lipstick and the latest fashions, Wilson spent most of her free time at church.
She led Bible studies, taught Sunday School and regularly attended Christian retreats with her daughter, Laronda Watson.
"We were very close," Watson said. "She was like my sister, my friend."
Wilson had five sons and a daughter. Two sons and her husband preceded her in death. She was a grandmother to 15 and great-grandmother to 15. She also stayed close friends with her SA Jones High School graduating class of 1959 for her whole life.
She retired from Timex Watch in 2002 after working for 39 years.
Wilson stayed up-to-date on fashions and liked to go shopping when she got the chance.
She was a happy person to the very end, Watson said. Although the family couldn't visit when Wilson went to the hospital with pneumonia in December, Watson still talked to her mom on the phone.
"She was in good spirits, she was always that type of person. No matter what," Watson said.
Wilson tested positive for covid-19 after her pneumonia was confirmed. Watson doesn't know where she contracted the illness.
"She will be missed," she said. "And we will always love her."
Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods called former sheriff Fontaine a "father figure" who reminded him to "remain humble ... and always focused on the people."
Known to friends as "Boe," Fontaine joined the department in 1980 as a patrol deputy and served eight years as the county's 30th sheriff before he left office in 2006.
Before law enforcement, Fontaine spent 21 years with the Marines and fought in Vietnam. He was a four-time recipient of the Purple Heart, which goes to soldiers wounded in action.
Fontaine also received the Silver Star -- the military's third-ranking award for combat -- as well as the fourth-ranking combat award, the Bronze Star with combat valor.
Fontaine retired as a gunnery sergeant, according to his obituary.
Jefferson County's County Judge Gerald Robinson, a Black former sheriff who followed Fontaine, said his "mentor" believed in racial equality.
"Not everyone stood by him because of his support for me, but Boe would say every day it didn't matter ... because he was going to stand by me because it was the right thing to do."
Dorothy "Dot" Rowland, who was the sheriff's office secretary when Fontaine was elected, remembered him as a family man – husband to Mae Fontaine and father to Arkansas State Trooper Kim Fontaine.
"There were times when you just needed to talk to someone, and he had a listening ear with good advice," Rowland said.
Davis, 63, grew up on the other side of a North Little Rock baseball field from his future wife, Sheila Davis recalled.
Known as "Dick," he went to Sheila's church and was her classmate at now-closed Poplar Street Middle School. They "fell for one another and became a couple" when they were 14 years old, she said.
"Well, what kind of guy do you want to marry?" he asked her. She told him she wanted to marry a doctor, with a last name that was easy to spell.
"And so he went to the counselor and said, 'I want to change my schedule, and I want to take all the courses I need to get into med school,'" she said. "And that's how it started."
After completing his residency in El Dorado, Davis took over a family practice in Smackover where he remained for the rest of his life. His wife handled the clinic's administration, and the two "were together 24/7" while raising their two sons, she said.
Davis became "the epitome of a small-town country doctor," his obituary said. He made house calls in a jon boat during flooding and via a four-wheeler in ice storms. Patients considered him a friend as well as their doctor, and area specialists knew him as a gifted diagnostician.
His life, his wife said, was much more than medicine.
While dozens of cookbooks lined their shelves, Dick could spin up Italian dishes without consulting recipes and re-create restaurant meals from memory. He adored hunting and fishing at the family's deer, fishing and duck camps, owned horses that ran at the Hot Springs racetrack and played saxophone.
When the pandemic began, Dick told his wife that they would need to be careful -- he had diabetes, hypertension and other conditions that put him at risk for a bad outcome. But the two had no symptoms, at first, when they tested positive in mid-December in advance of a planned Christmas visit to his mother.
He felt tired and short of breath one morning before taking a reading of his blood oxygen level at home. He sat for a bit, had coffee and said he wanted to go to the emergency room to get checked out, his wife said.
He remained in hospitals for more than three weeks, at one point feeling well enough to ask for a Wendy's order -- two single burgers and fries -- to be taken to him for his supper. But his recovery wouldn't last.
He died Jan. 11 at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock about a half-hour before his family arrived at the hospital. The night before, his wife had a nurse hold a phone up to Dick's ear to tell him how much he was loved.
The loss has been hard to make sense of, Sheila Davis said.
"He's practicing at the clinic Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday he has to go to the hospital, and a month later, he's gone," she said. "Sometimes I think it's not even happening; that he's fixing to walk in the door any minute. But he's not."
The Hot Springs native spent his working life as a self-employed car hauler. He drove "one of the big haulers," big enough to deliver up to 10 cars at a time, according to his wife, Sharon.
Quiet by nature, he enjoyed joking with friends and family members, and watching his son Brian coach football at Little Rock Christian Academy. He also loved spending time with the couple's only grandchild. He had few other hobbies because "all he knew was how to work hard his whole life," his wife said.
In December 2017, Gibson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, underwent treatments, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Although he had to quit work, he generally "was doing great and was in remission," she said. "It was a miracle."
During the covid-19 pandemic, the couple wore masks but didn't stay home. "We were out and about," Sharon Gibson said. In retrospect, she said of the virus: "We took it lightly."
She became ill first, toward mid-December, with pain and fever. After three days, her symptoms turned mild.
Arnold Gibson tested positive on Dec. 18 and was hospitalized Dec. 20. The virus attacked his lungs. "That's where it went bad," his wife said. "Let people know, please take [the virus] seriously."
He couldn't have visitors at UAMS Medical Center. "It was awful not to be there," she said. "I would sit at the Walgreens parking lot" near the hospital "and let him know I was there."
The couple married just three months after they met and were together 43 years. According to his obituary, "one trait of Arnold's that was evident to everyone around him was his extraordinary love for his wife, Sharon."
The native of Mexico took a trade school sewing course when she was young and loved the work.
After she moved to the Hot Springs area with her husband when they were in their 20s, she was in demand as a seamstress who could skillfully stitch wedding and bridesmaids' dresses and other clothing, or repair upholstery or a car dealership's enormous American flag.
Although she had underlying health issues, Ugartechea was active until she contracted the virus, according to her daughter, Sandra Ugartechea-Vaughn. Besides sewing, she worked as a custodian at Fountain Lake Elementary at Hot Springs National Park.
Over the years, Ugartechea was the family matriarch and touchstone.
"We had family dinners every Sunday, and she would cook for us. We saw her all the time and talked to her all the time," said her daughter.
Sometime before Thanksgiving, Ugartechea became ill with covid-19. Other family members, including her daughter, also caught the virus but were not seriously ill. "I had a cough, lost taste and smell, but that was about it," Ugartechea-Vaughn said.
They quarantined their mother of four in a room at home away from their father, Sabas. Family members visited and nursed her. On Dec. 1, her oxygen level registered low on a pulse oximeter. She was taken to a hospital and admitted.
Family members called and texted daily until Dec. 13, when she was placed on a ventilator. "We couldn't talk to her after that," her daughter said.
"It's hard knowing she was alone" at the hospital, her daughter said. "I can't stress enough how much it hurt my family." She and her father were allowed to say goodbye at the end.
Grant worked at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock for more than 20 years, including as a coordinator in the baby unit, her daughter Lakina Jones said.
Besides her job, she loved going to church, shopping and spending time with family.
About three years ago, health issues required the Little Rock mother of three to move to Amberwood Health + Rehabilitation in Benton.
"She was really a character, and she stayed that way," said her daughter. "She was feisty. She talked about having a boyfriend."
Sometime in early December, Grant tested positive for covid-19.
At first she didn't have any symptoms. "She was doing well," her daughter said. Jones came down with the virus herself about that time and thinks she may have gotten it from her mother. Her case was mild.
In mid-December, "all of a sudden it went bad" for Grant. She was admitted to Baptist Health, her former workplace, with what a Pulaski County coroner's report described as low oxygen levels and an infection.
On Christmas Day, Jones said, the hospital called to say, "I don't think she's going to make it."
Blinded at age 5, Layton spent much of her life challenging herself to learn more and to keep up with everyone else.
Layton treasured her independence, her granddaughter Sharee Thomas said.
She knew how to count money -- discerning one denomination from another -- that she earned while punching notebook holes at the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind, where she worked for about 30 years.
She shopped, dined out and insisted on following her friends to Canada through the underground tunnel from Detroit, where they were visiting on a work trip.
"I'm like, 'Canada?' She's like, 'Yes,'" said Thomas, 41, who accompanied her. "If someone tells Grandma they've done something, she's like, 'I want to do it, too.'"
Late in life, Layton learned how to use an iPhone and took computer classes.
In early December, she fell ill. She assumed the coughing was normal because of her congestive heart failure, Thomas said. But Thomas insisted that Layton go to the hospital after Layton's husband tested positive for covid-19.
Thomas drove her grandmother Dec. 11 to the emergency room at UAMS and bid her farewell, unable to follow her inside, she said. About 10 days later, Layton was placed on a ventilator, but needed the breathing assistance for only about four days.
"That old covid tried to take me," Layton told her granddaughter by phone on Christmas Day after she was taken off the ventilator, Thomas recalled.
Family members were excited and hopeful as Layton -- who had already survived breast and lung cancer -- worked the phone that day, talking to her sister, her husband and a small gathering at Thomas' house. Her confidence shone.
Thomas revealed to Layton that she gifted her an air fryer for Christmas, which is what her grandmother wanted, and Layton told her granddaughter she looked forward to learning how to use it.
Four days later, still at UAMS, Layton died.
"We talked every day," Thomas said. "Even to this day, I can't even step a foot in her house. I can't do it. I know one day I will, but right now I can't do it because I miss her so much. I'm going to hate to walk in there and not see her sitting at that table. She always sat at that dining room table."
Denton, curious and driven, knew a little bit about many things, her daughter Wyvonnia Denton said.
She studied nursing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and worked for two years in nursing homes before deciding she wanted a different career.
She took business and culinary classes at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College, later starting a catering business that served functions for friends and relatives.
And she drove a city bus for a little over a decade, relishing daily interactions with her riders, her daughter said.
"She loved to talk to everybody," her daughter said.
Denton retired at age 50 after suffering heart attacks. About five years later, she lost her eyesight.
Again, she was a quick study, mastering how to count money, how to get from place to place and how to rely on different devices for assistance -- "everything but the Braille," her daughter said.
Wyvonnia believes her mother contracted the coronavirus while hospitalized in December for an infection after a procedure to clean a dialysis port. Denton tested negative upon admission and stayed for nearly two weeks. Two days after she was discharged, Denton collapsed.
She tested positive then for covid-19 and was sent back home. Her daughter drove Denton to her dialysis appointments for the next week at a Baptist Health facility specifically for covid-19 patients.
On Dec. 28, Denton said she was "so tired" and just "wanted to sleep," but otherwise she was "happy," her daughter said.
She died early the next morning in her bed at home, according to a coroner's report.
Sheffield found her calling working in special education at the Bryant School District about 20 years ago, her oldest daughter said.
"Everybody says that you have to be a special person to work in special education, and those kids, they were the light of her life," Sheffield's daughter, Jeanna Bartelt said. "She worked her tail off to advocate for her kids and be there for them."
Sheffield taught elementary school for about five years, then got her master's degree. She became a special education specialist and cheerleading coach for Bethel Middle School, where she worked until she became ill.
Sheffield was a mother of five and grandmother to six, with two more on the way. She would drop anything to be with her grandchildren, to take them to the park or the library, Bartelt said.
"Sundays we would watch football or have family game night Saturdays," Bartelt said. "If we weren't spending Sundays together, we were texting about the Cowboys."
Sheffield got sick just before Thanksgiving. Bartelt said she doesn't know where her mother contracted the virus.
She was a patient at Saline Memorial Hospital for about a week before she had to go on a ventilator. The last time the family video-called her, Bartelt kept her son home from school.
"We told her we loved her and everything, and they put her on the ventilator," she said.
After her mother's death, Bartelt said, messages of support from former students and their parents poured in.
Sheffield kept up with her students, checking on the cheerleaders after they'd moved to high school and calling families of her special-education students sometimes twice a day to make sure they were OK when school went virtual in March.
"She had a quote that she absolutely lived by: 'To the world you might be just one person, but to one person you might be the world,'" Bartelt said. "She honestly was the world to so many people."
Buckingham retired in May after teaching business at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for 54 years.
She loved to cook, play cards and travel — visiting every state except Alaska and several spots abroad, such as Israel and St. Thomas, said her son Earl Buckingham, the former Razorback and NFL defensive lineman.
“She was pretty independent for an 84-year-old woman,” he said. Stern but loving, Buckingham taught her students — and her two children — lessons from the “book of life.”
“It doesn’t cost anything to be polite, be on time and to treat people with courtesy and respect — and work hard,” he said his mother taught him. “Do those things, and you have a chance.”
It’s not clear how his mother contracted the coronavirus, he said. She developed a cough and went to her doctor, who routed her to the emergency room at Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock. She was admitted Dec. 2 and tested positive for covid-19, according to a coroner’s report.
Daily progress reports to the family were up and down, he said. After a couple of days, she was no longer able to talk by phone because she required a mask to assist her breathing. Her doctor said her age and preexisting conditions made it unlikely that she would survive.
Her son took the family to the hospital on Dec. 6, where they gathered outside her window and peered inside.
“That seems to have energized her,” he said. “She waved at us and seemed to be perked up a little bit when she saw us.”
Mother of two, grandmother of five and great-grandmother of eight, she died five days later, leaving a void in the lives of many, he said.
“It’s a huge loss,” her son said. “She was a one-of-a-kind lady. It’s a big loss for more people than just my family. She was a mom and granny to a whole lot of people, more than us.”
The former mayor of Osceola for nearly three decades was perhaps best known for helping bring Big River Steel to his town in 2014.
Knowing the plant could provide high-paying jobs, Kennemore used his connections and pushed hard for the largest economic development project in state history.
A native and lifelong resident of the Northeast Arkansas city, population 6,764 in 2018, he was known as “bullheaded” and “proactive.”
“If there was a problem or if he didn’t like the way things were going, he always taught me if you don’t like what you see or you don’t like how it’s going, you just get in there and you fix it — you be proactive,” said son Ken Kennemore.
An Arkansas State University graduate, Kennemore owned and operated businesses in real estate, construction and insurance, according to his obituary. He built and developed several residential subdivisions.
The husband and father of three ran successfully for mayor of Osceola in 1990 and held onto the job for 28 years. The city, like many Delta towns, was declining when he took office. It now has built several new facilities, including a justice complex, community center, senior citizen center and animal shelter. The city attracted other businesses and industries as well.
State Sen. Dave Wallace, R-Leachville, said Kennemore stood out.
“He was the best mayor in our area, and we have some good mayors here,” said Wallace, a Kennemore friend. “He really drove economic development, and Dickie was a big reason we have Big River Steel sitting over there.”
As the covid-19 pandemic spread this year, Kennemore, who was defeated for reelection in 2018, doubled-down on looking after his own health. He decided to ride his bike 5 miles almost every day, his son said.
When he tested positive for coronavirus, his family believed he would see the virus through successfully as he has with most other problems. Even as the prognosis turned grim, his son said the way his father fought, living longer than doctors estimated, was emblematic of who he was.
He was the first law enforcement officer in the state to die of covid-19 in the line of duty, according to the North Little Rock Police Department.
Dancy served on the police force since 1985, primarily as a detective in the Crimes against Persons Unit of the Investigations Division, later becoming a supervisor.
“He helped young detectives become seasoned professionals,” said Police Chief Tracy Roulston, who called Dancy “the rock” of his department unit.
“However, I think his best attribute was his ability to lean on his faith and help the families of victims of violent crimes. He has affected so many people. We are all still in shock.”
He battled the virus for several weeks, according to a news release from department spokesman officer Joe Green.
Dancy tested positive for covid-19 on Nov. 11 and was admitted to UAMS North Little Rock on Nov. 18, according to a Pulaski County coroner’s report.
Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Gary Sipes said any law enforcement officer death that results from action taken in the execution of duty is a death in the line of duty. Though it’s difficult to determine how and when most people contract the virus, Sipes said the North Little Rock Police Department did determine how it happened with Dancy.
North Little Rock Police will double down on current covid-19 protocol for the department by making sure personal protective equipment is worn and social distancing is followed when necessary, Green said.
Judy McCutcheon still keeps Snickers bars on hand.
After his retirement, her father, Wayne McCutcheon, took a part-time job shuttling cars at the Boone County Regional Airport, where Judy works, so he could be around people — particularly his buddies who have jobs at the same place and his daughter. She kept the candy bars in her desk for when he stopped by.
He stayed active his whole life, gardening and making regular rounds, sipping coffee and making conversation at the restaurants in town.
“He was friends with everybody,” Judy said. “He just loved to be around people and visit.”
Wayne worked as a truck driver for most of his life. He had three children, three stepchildren, two grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Judy said “he’d light up” when he talked about or saw his grandkids.
He was a football and basketball player in high school. A Cardinals fan, Wayne passed his love of sports to his children. His family took vacations to St. Louis to see “his beloved Cardinals” play.
“He worked a lot, especially as a truck driver,” Judy said. “But when he was home, he’d be in the yard with my brother and I for hours playing catch or throwing the football.”
Wayne was careful during the pandemic, wearing a mask and minimizing contact with others. He had preexisting conditions, which he knew made him vulnerable to covid-19, Judy said.
“He told me numerous times, ‘If I catch it, I know it’ll kill me,’” she said.
The last time the two spoke was Thanksgiving Day, when Wayne called Judy and her sister several times from North Arkansas Regional Medical Center. The conversations were short as it became more difficult for him to talk.
He was soon intubated and died four days after the Thanksgiving phone calls.
Billie Thayer “was still vibrant,” said daughter Kay Ely, living at home, reading “four to five books a week” and staying awake until 12 or 1 because a particular book “was so good.”
She and her husband Walter Thayer were high school sweethearts at Oklahoma City’s Central High School and were married 72 years with three children.
Billie Thayer worked in the accounting department at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, where she and her husband were members for 57 years, and later at what is now CHI St. Vincent.
“She also was an accomplished seamstress who made clothes for her two daughters when they were young, and an excellent cook. The couple loved hosting family and friends for meals in their home on North Bryan. Recipe cards ‘from the kitchen of Billie Marie Thayer’ have now been passed down to two generations,” according to her obituary.
Billie Thayer went to Baptist Health Medical Center on Nov. 21 with pneumonia because of covid-19, her coroner’s report shows.
“Walter preceded Billie in death by only two weeks,” her obituary noted, “and he no doubt rejoiced when she joined him in heaven shortly after his arrival.”
Mays won’t be here for Christmas and that’s a shame, because she shined around the holidays, her son said.
For nursing home residents she worked with, Mays wrangled hairdressers, cigarettes, gifts and even clothes. She brought them what they needed, the small joys of life that get taken for granted. Her generosity, though, was boundless.
One time a friend hit a rough patch around the holidays, so Mays gave her the Christmas tree and decorations from her own home. She delighted in making presents for children of family friends, many of whom called her Mama.
The mother of two “was like an angel on Earth, and she cared about people,” said son James Mays. She once asked for some of his old clothes for a nursing home resident with a similar build. “She’s going to make sure you’re all right.”
A licensed practical nurse, Mays worked for more than three decades in Arkansas nursing homes, often holding multiple jobs at once, her son said. She’d follow an eight-hour shift at one facility with an eight-hour shift at another. She also caught weekend work.
He believes his mother contracted covid-19 while working at Barrow Creek Health and Rehab in Little Rock. Mays battled the virus at home for roughly a week before collapsing on the way to the bathroom. Her son called 911, and she went into cardiac arrest upon arriving to the hospital, according to James and a coroner’s report.
James subsequently fought covid-19 himself. Afraid he might die in his sleep, he called 911 and was admitted at CHI St. Vincent with shortness of breath and a low oxygen level. He remained hospitalized for seven days, barely able to shake the fear that he could wind up requiring a ventilator. Aches and fatigue continue to dog him.
Son and mother had taken the virus seriously from the beginning, he said. They wore masks, washed hands and believed if they caught it, it would not be because of their own lax behavior. They did things the right way, he said, and she still lost her life.
“I see people out there that don’t have their masks on,” James said. “I just don’t see why people think they can walk around without masks on, knowing they can get somebody sick.”
Simpson worked part time at the Conway Human Development Center as a physical therapist assistant, said her daughter-in-law Linda Cullum. She was active, kept up her home on 5 acres and planned a knee replacement soon.
The mother of two spent 30 years as a beautician before going back to school for a GED and then on to college for an associate degree. Before the Human Development Center, she worked in nursing homes and home health.
“She served the patient community for years,” Cullum said. “When you went with her anywhere, people would know her. She was loved by her co-workers and family.”
Many of Simpson’s family members came down with covid-19 earlier this year. “I had it, and my husband,” said Cullum. “My daughter had it back in July but got over it just fine.”
When Simpson contracted the virus, probably at work, her daughter-in-law worried. But then Cullum felt better after thinking, “she’ll be OK because she’s healthy.”
After taking Simpson for an emergency room visit in early October, Cullum stayed with her overnight. “I could tell she wasn’t doing well,” she said.
Simpson was admitted to Conway Regional Medical Center on Oct. 7. She was on a ventilator from Oct. 10 until her death about a month later.
“They kept trying to wake her up, but her little lungs wouldn’t recover,” Cullum said.
Late this year, Walter Thayer struggled with health issues, and spent time in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
A Korean War veteran, Walter Thayer worked for several years for business data firm Dunn and Bradstreet in Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan. He and his wife, Billie Thayer, were high school sweethearts married for 72 years. The couple had three children.
The family moved to Arkansas in the mid-1960s when Walter Thayer joined the federal Small Business Administration.
Walter Thayer was admitted to St. Vincent in Little Rock on Nov. 2 with chronic kidney disease, according to a Pulaski County coroner’s report, and tested positive on Nov. 12 for covid-19.
The Thayers, daughter Kay Ely and her husband and sister all became ill with covid-19 about the same time, said Ely, who moved back to Little Rock in recent years to help care for her parents. Part of the pain in dealing with the virus, Ely said, is never knowing for sure where it was contracted.
Arkansas’ Substitute Teacher of the Year in 2019, Yarbrough hiked for exercise and enjoyment, and seemed to be in good health, according to his niece, Vanessa Gwin.
He graduated from what is now the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in biology and attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock for two years, according to his obituary. He then launched a nearly 30-year career in nursing home administration.
After retiring in 2003, he returned to Arkansas where “he discovered his true calling, substitute teaching in the elementary schools in Conway,” his obituary said.
Known to students as “Mr. Ron,” he was a popular substitute teacher for nearly two decades. Kelly Education, the company through which Conway Public Schools contracts substitutes, last year named him the state’s Substitute Teacher of the Year.
During summers when school was out, Yarbrough, who never married, traveled Arkansas “in an attempt to visit every state park. He managed a personal visit to 50 of the 52 state parks,” according to his obituary.
Gwin said her uncle tested positive for covid-19 on Oct. 24. Contact tracing indicated that he contracted the virus from friends, not at school, Gwin said.
Within a week, doctors placed him on a ventilator at Conway Regional Medical Center.
“For the most part, it was downhill,” she said. “It has all been really sad.”
“He was amazing,” she said of her uncle. “He was everyone’s biggest cheerleader. He never wished a bad thing on any person.”
One of seven children, she grew up in the northern Louisiana town of Bernice, so small it boasted just one stoplight, according to her sister, Dorthy Johnson.
“Now they’ve even taken that one down,” Johnson said.
Their father’s bad health meant the family was so poor “we didn’t have really anything.” They counted on help from grandparents, aunts and uncles. Even so, the parents “made sure we were all educated. All of us went to college.”
Terry went to a business college in Monroe, La., and, in 1970, married a church pastor, the Rev. L.B. Terry. They had three children. She worked as a teacher’s aide at an El Dorado middle school, according to her obituary, then for more than 20 years at an El Dorado Walmart.
“She was best known for showering her loved ones, extended family, and all those who she embraced as a family with love and happiness,” her obituary said. “She enjoyed cooking and seeing the joy her food brought to others.”
In recent years as a diabetic in failing health, Terry moved to Courtyard Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in El Dorado. Johnson said no one knows how her sister contracted covid-19, though it could have happened at the facility or on trips to a dialysis center. Courtyard has reported at least 45 cases of covid-19 and eight deaths from the disease, according to the state Health Department.
She was admitted to Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock on Oct. 22 with “altered mental status” and tested positive for the virus, according to a Pulaski County coroner’s report.
The longtime University of Arkansas, Fayetteville accounting department professor and chairman started his working life in oil fields and as an office manager on construction jobs in Arkansas and Louisiana.
A U.S. Army veteran, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Arkansas University, the University of Mississippi and Louisiana State University, according a university news release.
In 1963, in his early 30s and armed with a new Ph.D., Modisette landed a teaching job in the UA accounting department. On a trip to Europe that summer, he met and courted his future wife, Diane.
When he retired more than 30 years later, Modisette counted among his students three Dillard sons (Bill, Alex and Mike), Rob Walton and top executives of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Walton Enterprises, Tyson Foods and other companies, according to the news release by the UA Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Chairman of the accounting department from 1971-85, Modisette trained his students to succeed in the world’s biggest accounting firms, his wife said. A 2001 article in “Talk Business & Politics” dubbed him Arkansas’ “Business Education Godfather.”
“Dr. Modisette’s 33 years of service to the university instrumentally impacted the accounting profession in Arkansas,” Gary Peters, current chairman of the business school’s accounting department, said in the UA news release.
Modisette was in recovering from surgery and an infection when he tested positive for covid-19, his wife said. For several days, he called their two children and friends often to tell them, “I’m fine.” Then the facility phoned to say he was being admitted to Washington Regional Medical Center, his wife said.
Diane Modisette worried about his lungs — the Army had discharged him as a young man because of lung issues.
He died on Election Day surrounded by family.
Although he worked more than 30 years for the former AP&L power company (now Entergy Arkansas) and then for the Magnolia Public School District, his true calling was as a devoted husband and father, and as a Baptist pastor, according to daughter LaToya Phillips-McBride.
He accepted his first south Arkansas pastor’s post in 1988, according to his obituary. Later he led churches in Camden and Waterloo before moving to St. Paul Baptist Church in Taylor.
Phillips earned several degrees in religion, including a bachelor’s and two masters from United Theological Seminary and Bible College in El Dorado and Monroe, La., according to his obituary. He received his doctorate degree in ministry from Anderson-ville Theological Seminary in Camilla, Ga.
“He was hardworking, he was genuine, he loved everybody,” said his daughter. “Not only did he preach about being called to the ministry, he lived it.”
Phillips, his wife who he called “Miss Mable,” both daughters and other family members began feeling ill about the same time in late October. Phillips-McBride remembers feeling so sick that she could barely walk around her house.
Her father was too ill to preach on the last Sunday in October. Mable Phillips began driving him and other family members to a nearby hospital. He was given a chest X-ray later that week and was supposed to follow up with his regular doctor on Nov. 2.
The day before that appointment, he was so weak that his wife asked if she should call an ambulance or a doctor.
He told her: “No, they don’t know how to treat this covid,” his daughter said. A short time later, Mable Phillips discovered that he had stopped breathing. A family member and emergency technicians tried CPR without success.
A food service worker for 16 years in the Paragould School District, she tested positive for covid-19 several days before her death, according to an email from Superintendent Debbie Smith.
"Her daily dose of positivity and humor will be long remembered by the many children and adults she served. We loved Kim and will miss her greatly," Smith said.
The wife and mother enjoyed boating and fishing, and "fiercely loved her family and friends," according to her obituary.
Flanery's brother, Joshua Carpenter, said during her memorial service that his sister once happened upon an angry driver honking at him, while Carpenter was out for a run near an elementary school.
His sister began arguing back with the driver, said Carpenter, pastor at Grace United General Baptist Church in Paragould.
"There's not too many 40-year-old men who have a sister who'd go get in a fight for them in a school parking lot. But that's the kind of sister I have," he said.
A music teacher at Palestine-Wheatley Elementary School, Hynum was "well-liked, well-loved and well-respected by everyone," Superintendent Jon Estes said. "He will be crazily, crazily missed. It will be a hard hit on everyone."
Hynum had worked for the school district for about a decade, Estes said.
A devoted student of the tuba and euphonium, he earned regional and state honors in high school, and continued his band and music studies at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, according to his obituary.
"After 10 years and 16 days of dating, Jimmy married the love of his life in a nuptial Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church," the obituary said. Although he and wife, Angela, had no children of their own, "as teachers, God blessed them with hundreds of Hynum Babies of all ages who filled their lives with love, joy, and laughter."
The couple contracted covid-19 within hours of each other last month, and believe they were infected at a church choir rehearsal, his wife said. They thought they were improving – then he worsened and had to be hospitalized. When doctors said her husband might need a ventilator, she talked to a favorite nurse about speaking with him first by phone.
"Jimmy wasn't able to talk very much. I said, 'I love you' and he said, 'I love you' several times," his wife said. "Later that night I called back to see if they put him on the vent. The nurse said no, 'but I'll let you talk to him one more time.'
"I'm grateful I got to talk to him twice."
A longtime church pastor, he and his wife, Joyce, founded the Christ Church in Little Rock in 1975. He served as pastor until turning over his duties to his son, Sean Dudley, last year.
He was "called to preach at 16," according to his wife. "He could relate to the richest person, to the poorest person, it didn't matter."
In addition to his church duties, Dudley was an entrepreneur whose businesses included Curley's BBQ, according to his obituary. He and his wife "served the best BBQ, foot-longs, and hot tamales in town." He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and playing dominoes.
The father of four was admitted Oct. 17 to Baptist Health-Little Rock after testing positive for covid-19. He died in the intensive care unit a week later, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report.
"He was true blue, he was the same on Monday as he was on Sunday," his wife said.
A local wrestler, he was best known for performing in rings in Tuckerman and Walnut Ridge, according to his brother Mark Ellison.
In the ring, he went by the name "Sexy" Rex Ellison. To those close to him, he was known for his abundant kindness and love of art and fishing, his brother said.
In September, he purchased a fly-fishing rod while preparing to undergo chemotherapy for multiple myeloma cancer at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
The brothers planned to go fishing in Mammoth Spring, near the Missouri border, once Rex was released from the hospital.
While undergoing cancer treatment, he contracted the virus, his brother said. Rex Ellison tested positive on Sept. 24, according to a coroner's report and died a little more than three weeks later, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report.
"He never got to use it," his brother said of the fishing rod.
The Arkansas native enjoyed football and working out, and hoped to start a business repairing computers and televisions, according to his daughter, Maya Fields.
He worked as a mentor at the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Alexander, a state lockup and treatment facility for youths.
One of a large family of brothers and sisters, Fields was outgoing and liked helping people, even those he didn't know, his daughter said. A deacon at church, he enjoyed reading the Bible and watching the Dallas Cowboys.
"He was a God-loving man who worked hard and dedicated his life to the Lord," she said.
His daughter believes he contracted covid-19 while working in the juvenile lockup at Alexander.
"It hit him pretty quickly," she said. He was admitted to CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock on Sept. 17 with shortness of breath, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report. Fields was on a ventilator and other life-support machines, she said. He tested positive for covid-19 as late as Oct. 15, the day before he died.
His medical history included diabetes and high blood pressure. "He had underlying medical conditions that made it hard for him to fight off the virus," his daughter said.
At her brother’s funeral, Mary Patrick’s family noticed she seemed more tired than usual.
He died in September from covid-19. Just over a week later, Mary Patrick was hospitalized with the illness. The wife and mother was “terrified” of covid-19 and took many precautions, her daughter Casey Patrick said.
Mary was first hospitalized in Harrison, but was moved to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville as her symptoms worsened.
A retired deputy director of the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas, Patrick started work after high school at the operation’s predecessor and continued as it grew into its own agency.
“That was her passion, was working with the elderly,” Casey said. “Trying to keep them as independent as she could.”
Mary and her husband, Ronald, who married during a lunch break on Valentine’s Day, would have been together 35 years this year. They tried to have children earlier in the marriage, but she suffered miscarriages. Then they had Casey, and mother and daughter were close, talking nearly every day. Mary visited often, especially after she retired.
“She would tell you that I was her hobby,” Casey said. “Anything that I was involved in, she was involved in.”
Mary was a master decorator, and her home reflected each season. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday — she would cook almost the entire family feast the night before.
At her funeral, family members made a bow for her beloved dog Toby in the reds, yellows and oranges of fall that matched the funeral flower arrangements.
Casey said her mother was the kind of person who would “do anything for anybody” and loved hosting people at her house, brewing huge pots of coffee for her guests.
“She was the kind of person that you would want to be your mom,” Casey said. “She was my No. 1 fan. If I was wrong, she’d tell me ‘You’re wrong, but I’m still going to support you.’”
He enjoyed camping, hiking and watching spaghetti Westerns – especially those featuring actor Clint Eastwood, said a daughter, Kandi Braswell.
Born in Alva, Okla., he served in the U.S. Air Force and lived "all over." He and wife Wanda's family included two daughters and a son from the couple's previous marriages.
Braswell arrived in Arkansas via a job assembling planes with the company now called Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. Introverted but devoted to his family, he escorted his daughters to Star Trek conventions and once sold a car to afford a doll for one of them. The family made weekly trips to a favorite roadside stand that served hot dogs and soft-serve ice cream.
In recent years, Braswell experienced early stages of dementia. He was living in an assisted-living facility when he fell ill with pneumonia. His daughter believes he contracted covid-19 in a rehabilitation facility after a hospital stay.
On Oct. 9, she learned that he had been hospitalized at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, where he suffered seizures and strokes because of covid-19. The family chose to stop treatment after a scan showed no brain function.
They were able to say goodbye through a video call, "so technically he wasn't alone," she said. "There are some days that are harder than others," she added. "Some days I'll just start crying out of nowhere.""
A commercial fisherman and dirt-track racer, Harper battled covid-19 for more than a month, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report and his daughter, Billie Branch.
She requested that doctors stop sedating her father so the family could ask whether he wanted a tracheostomy – a tube inserted into his windpipe to carry oxygen to his lungs. Weakened after about two weeks on a ventilator, Harper rejected the tube, communicating with nods and blinks, said Branch, 45.
"'Do you understand what this means?'" she asked him. "He shook his head yes. 'You realize you're going to go to heaven?' He said yes. 'Are you sure this is what you want,' and he shook his head yes."
The coroner's report says Harper was "of sound mind asking to be extubated."
"I think he was just tired," Branch said. "That wasn't him. They had already invaded him," she said, noting that the man who "looked like Santa Claus" was dismayed to find his long silvery hair and beard shorn. "He made me promise him not to leave him up there struggling. At times, I have second thoughts."
Harper was born in Kirkland, Wash., and grew up in Omaha, Neb., Branch said. He moved to Arkansas as an adult to be close to family.
A father of five, he fished for buffalo and catfish on the Arkansas River and sold his catch to fish markets. His kids helped him work on Bomber-class stock cars that he drove on dirt tracks.
"He was always happy," Branch said. "Always."
The former president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands died at his daughter's home, according to an article posted on the Marshall Islands government website.
A tribal chieftain, Tomeing was the fourth president of the republic between 2008 to 2009, and held earlier posts that included speaker of the Nitijela (Parliament) and vice speaker. He was a senator from 1979 until his retirement in 2018, according to the government website. He was also a teacher and curriculum specialist in Marshall Islands schools.
The central Pacific island chain, under U.S. control since World War II, was granted independence in 1979. Its 2018 population was 58,413, according to the World Bank.
Tomeing, who helped form the republic in 1979, lost a "no-confidence" vote in October 2009 and had to leave office, according to news accounts.
A message of condolence from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Tomeing a "seminal figure in the founding institutions of his nation, including his role in the Marshall Islands Constitutional Convention."
One of his greatest legacies, Pompeo said, was "successfully advocating for the establishment of the nation's first consulate in the United States in Springdale, Arkansas, to serve what is now the largest Marshallese community outside of the Marshall Islands."
A Washington County coroner's report said Tomeing died of end-stage COPD and covid-19, for which he had tested positive.
Part of the family that started long-running Little Rock restaurant Franke's Cafeteria, she chose to pursue other passions that included plants and working in nurseries, said her son, Brian Baker.
"We could drive down the street, and she'd be pointing out things, all kinds of plants, to me," he recalled. "You name it, she knew it."
After a divorce and raising two sons, Franke lived in her North Little Rock home for more than 40 years. Her cheese dip was a family favorite, and she was known for her positive outlook, her son said.
"She was funny. She would just keep you laughing, always had a great sense of humor," he said. She never seemed "down or depressed."
Later, with health problems that included congestive heart failure and COPD, she moved to Lakewood Health and Rehab in North Little Rock, according to her son.
She tested positive for covid-19 after returning to the nursing home from a hospital visit, Baker said. She entered hospice care in late September. Her son attributed her death largely to existing ailments. "It wasn't just straight covid," he said.
Daughter Beverly Williams got several calls from friends after her mother's death, saying they still had this piece or that of Cook's artwork in their homes.
Her mother loved to paint images of flowers, Santas, even a parade of animals on the wall of the children's wing at her North Little Rock church. "Anything that she could find that looked plain, boring, like a box or a pan, she would take it and then it would be on your wall hanging," Williams said.
Her mother also loved to sing, especially hymns and 1940s Big Band music.
Cook worked as a registered nurse for more than 40 years, specializing in geriatric care. After she retired, she started volunteering at her church and at Baptist Health-North Little Rock, where she worked at the gift shop and as president of the volunteer association.
The mother of two lived alone after her husband's death before moving recently into Lakewood Nursing and Rehab in North Little Rock. She tested positive for covid-19 Sept. 28, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report and was admitted Oct. 5 to Baptist Health-North Little Rock, where she had done volunteer work.
Her daughter said nurses who called to update the family on Cook's condition often knew and recognized her.
Cook had "lots of friends and was extremely loved, and she's missed every day," Williams said.
Born in affluence in 1925 Italy, Tourel's family fortunes tumbled after the rise of fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, niece Wilma Crowder said.
With World War II raging as he reached adulthood, Tourel nonetheless cultivated a love of culture and an insatiable desire for learning that would define the life he made in the United States.
Before settling in Arkansas, Tourel traveled throughout Europe, singing as a tenor in a grand opera. In the '50s, he moved to Oklahoma. He made friends and followed them to Arkansas. Later, Tourel's parents joined him, Crowder said.
Tourel taught voice and joined the performing arts program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, his niece said. He worked in eclectic fields. He learned and taught violin, appraised antiques, styled hair, managed a restaurant, and reviewed manuscripts for obscure and well-known authors, Crowder said. She estimates that her uncle completed about 10 degrees, several at the doctoral level.
"He was a highly educated man – he had so many degrees you wouldn't believe it," Crowder said. "If he had his way, he would have been going to school up until the last day of his life.
Tourel planned to live past 100 and was in good health, Crowder said.
In late September after he began struggling to "get up and move," she took him to the hospital. Admitted to Baptist Health-Little Rock with blood clots, he soon tested positive for covid-19. It's not clear how he contracted the coronavirus, his niece said. Everyone in contact with him tested negative.
Co-owner and operator of a home for adults with disabilities, he worked in sales before discovering, almost 20 years ago, a passion for serving disabled adults, according to friends and family.
Pathfinder Inc. of Jacksonville, provider of vocational training for the disabled, asked Stripling's wife, Debbie, in 2003 to start a skills training center in Northwest Arkansas. "He left [sales] to come help me," she said.
As transportation director, "he did so much more than his title gives him credit for," said Ashley Hammer, a Pathfinder director for Northwest Arkansas. "He not only managed a fleet of drivers, but also assisted with transporting clients to and from the day program, helped with Special Olympics, family food baskets, supervised special client activities on weekends and assisted with overall day-to-day operations."
After retirement in 2016, the Striplings bought the Apple Crest Inn in Gentry to house disabled adults already living with them, according to Joshua Hagan, who worked with Stripling in real estate.
"(His) life was spent making other lives better," Hagan said.
One of the inn's residents became fatigued and eventually tested positive for covid-19. Ric Stripling became sick along with others in the house, including his daughter and son-in-law.
All recovered, except the father of four, who had underlying health conditions, said his wife. He tested positive Sept. 19, according to a Benton County coroner's report, and died 12 days later at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers.
A longtime educator, Jenkins was a coach and teacher at Magnet Cove and Russellville Public Schools, a principal at Ozark High School and Johnson County Westside and director of the Alma Opportunity School at Alma, according to his obituary.
A graduate of Atkins High School in 1981, he returned to his alma mater as superintendent in July, 2019. His colleagues said working for the Atkins School District had always been his dream.
"He loved this school," said Darrell Webb, interim superintendent, who has known Jenkins since the 1970s when they were classmates at Atkins. "He loved the community. When that happens, teachers and kids can sense that."
Jenkins could be seen daily standing at the carpool line greeting students as they arrived, Webb said. He rarely missed a sporting event. He visited with kids during lunch. Outside work, he was an active member of Atkins First Baptist Church.
The husband and father of two announced Sept. 13 on the school district's Facebook page that he had contracted the coronavirus, saying his symptoms were mild. But his illness worsened, with blood clots forming in his legs and aorta. He was placed on a ventilator.
Jenkins' funeral service was held at the Atkins School District's Sorrels Stadium to accommodate crowds of mourners.
A longtime Baptist preacher, Floyd served in churches throughout Central Arkansas, according to his wife, Jewell Floyd. For 25 years, he was pastor at Greater Unity Missionary Baptist Church in North Little Rock.
Away from church work, "he liked fishing, but we didn't do it often," his wife said. "He liked basketball. He coached and he played when he was young."
The Little Rock native and father of six suffered a stroke in about 2013 that affected one arm. "He was still in pretty good shape," his wife said. A second stroke in 2017 left him disabled; by 2019 he required nursing home care.
Still, his family took him home for frequent visits until March, when the pandemic barred visitors from nursing homes.
"I don't know who came in" to the nursing home with the virus, his wife said, "but he caught it."
The family was notified Aug. 24 that Floyd had tested positive but was asymptomatic, she said. Later he ran a fever and eventually experienced difficulty breathing. He was rushed to Baptist Health-Little Rock on Sept. 20.
After retiring in 2013 after losing her husband, Pledger decided she "couldn't sit still," according to daughter Renee Haynes.
So she signed on for classes to become a certified nursing assistant and went to work at a nursing home.
"My mamma was healthy. She was 77, but could outwork all of us," her daughter said.
In August, Pledger felt ill and tested positive for covid-19. She went to CHI St. Vincent North in Sherwood with breathing problems and was transferred to CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock. She improved and was sent home, but had to return to the hospital Sept. 3 with internal bleeding. As her condition worsened, doctors put her on a ventilator.
By mid-September, a doctor told Haynes that her mother was too weak to fight covid-19 and the pneumonia. Like many family members during the pandemic, the daughter wasn't allowed to visit.
"I held my daddy's hand when he died," she said. "I held my sister's. But I didn't get to hold hers."
She majored in French at Northeast Louisiana University, studied in Paris in 1972, graduated a year later and began spreading her love for the French language and culture to public school students in El Dorado.
For years, Hendricks was the only French teacher in Union County's public schools.
The birth of her eldest daughter, Ashley Windham, in 1977 was marked by a gift from students of a baby book in the language Hendricks taught. "I found it the other day," said Windham, who remembered speaking French at home while growing up. "She wrote a pretty good bit of it in French."
Hendricks suffered a stroke one year after her 2005 retirement, her daughter said. The ordeal left the right side of her body paralyzed. She moved to Hudson Memorial Nursing Home in El Dorado in 2011. Her husband Dennis died in 2013 from cancer, Windham said.
After a coronavirus test came back positive on Aug. 20, Hendricks was placed in the nursing home's covid-19 wing, Windham said. Family members believe it was a false positive because she showed no symptoms and tested negative twice afterward. Hendricks nonetheless remained in the covid-19 wing, Windham said, until she showed symptoms on Sept. 5.
She was admitted to Baptist Health-Little Rock the next day, according to a coroner's report, where she tested positive for the virus. She went on a ventilator until Windham made the decision Sept. 13 to take her off life support.
"I felt like it was 'Steel Magnolias,' where he signed a clipboard and they took her off life support," Windham said. "I stayed with her. It was peaceful. It was very sad, but peaceful."
The mother of two was a factory worker until the mid-1970s, when her family could afford for her to become a full-time homemaker, according to a daughter, Lynn King.
Her hobby was photography. After a course at East Arkansas Community College, she enjoyed shooting outdoors, especially landscapes, animals and her daughters riding horses.
Before Mangold felt ill and tested positive for covid-19 on Aug. 21, she had been living at home despite requiring supplemental oxygen for about a year. Around Aug. 28, her daughter said, she was taken by ambulance to Baptist Health-North Little Rock.
As her condition declined, family members couldn't visit because of public health rules to prevent spread of the virus. When doctors called King to say her mother was near death, the long drive kept her from getting to the hospital in time. Even so, she put on protective gear to spend a few minutes at her mother's side.
Mangold's sister, daughter and son-in-law tested positive as well, about the same time as her mother. The others recovered. "The symptoms weren't bad for the rest of us," her daughter said.
Horn spent his life in southeast Arkansas, growing up in a town of fewer than 2,000 people just north of the Louisiana border.
He learned to hunt deer as a boy, a hobby he carried on throughout his life, according to his mother, Donnie Sue Horn. "He loved outside," fishing and hunting, his mother said. "He actually has -- I think it's four deer heads that he's mounted in his room. That's what's on his walls."
After graduating from high school, he worked on his father's farm, growing soybeans and rice. He later joined Producers Rice Mill, where he worked for about 30 years, most recently as a rice grader, his mom said.
At their Baptist church, the older women "said any time they saw him, he had to hug them, hold open the door and carry out their groceries. He was just that type," she said.
When he first fell ill coughing, he assumed it was from dust kicked up by trucks going to the mill, his mother said. When he got worse, he visited his doctor and tested positive for covid-19. She tested positive later.
After both were hospitalized, he struggled to breathe.
"All I can think is that Jimmy was a Christian, and I have always known that God's in control. I think he did this just so that -- maybe it was his way of helping me cope with [Jimmy's] death," his mother said. "It's just like my heart has been torn out."
After her son died, Donnie Sue Horn still faced a lengthy battle with covid-19 infection. After her first hospital release, she was readmitted Sept. 29 with blood clots developed as a result of the virus, she said. She was released again Oct. 2.
She worked "one to two jobs her entire life" to provide for herself and her child, said son Steve Jernigan. She plastered pictures of her two grandchildren, ages 8 and 6, through her work space.
An employee of the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, House probably contracted the virus at work, he said, because co-workers on her floor also became ill.
About Aug. 10 or 11, she experienced a cough and upset stomach but tested negative for the coronavirus. On Aug. 13, House felt dizzy and her blood pressure dropped. She drove herself to a Sherwood rehabilitation hospital, her son said, where she tested positive. She was diagnosed with pneumonia as well.
"She drove herself because she didn't want to endanger anyone else. She wanted to do things herself. She was a strong-willed woman," Jernigan said.
Transferred to CHI St. Vincent Infirmary's critical care unit, she improved at first. But with underlying medical problems that included diabetes, she began to struggle and was moved to the covid-19 intensive-care unit.
Doctors recommended a ventilator and House seemed "happy and optimistic," her son said. She seemed to slowly improve for about two weeks. Then her oxygen levels dropped and the ventilator and medication didn't help. Her heart stopped, her son said.
Going through her papers, he found numerous letters and notes praising his mother: "What a hard worker, great co-worker, great friend. Those things always come up," he said.
When she retired as a Quality Foods warehouse worker, Henderson decided to start volunteering.
She signed up to work for North Little Rock's Hays Senior Center, where she already enjoyed exercising. She also volunteered with AARP and began traveling with those groups, visiting Hawaii, the Bahamas and other spots, her husband Reginald Henderson said.
He and his wife met at work and were married for 33 years. They each had two children, and together, 11 grandchildren.
In early August, she wasn't feeling well and struggled to get through one of their regular walks. Because of a history of kidney problems, the couple suspected a recurrence.
Her doctor prescribed medication and sent her home, but she didn't improve. On Aug. 7, five days after her first doctor visit, Reginald Henderson took his wife to CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock where, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report, she tested positive for covid-19.
"That was my last time talking to her, when she was admitted," he said. She died almost a month later.
"She was just a wonderful woman," he said. "Thirty-three years, and nothing to complain about."
The widow and mother of 10 loved gardening and fishing. She was fishing when she met her husband, according to a daughter, Sheila Holmes.
A churchgoer who read the Bible with her children, Holmes valued education and sent two children to a newly integrated school in Wabbaseka. "My mother wanted me to experience better," her daughter said.
Though the two soon left the school because of conflicts surrounding integration, Holmes still taught her children to value their educations. It's one reason her daughter works at a Little Rock school today.
"She was 5-foot or 5-foot-1 little lady, but she had a lot of spunk, she did," her daughter said.
When covid-19 struck and visitors were barred from hospitals and long-term care facilities, family members rotated shifts to stand by Holmes' Jefferson County nursing home window to ensure she wasn't alone.
She couldn't speak, but when they shouted, "she would raise a finger to let us know that she knew we were there," her daughter said.
The Army veteran and enthusiastic outdoorsman had a long first career that spanned banking, sales, pharmaceuticals and investments.
After retirement, he joined the staff of Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, where he developed the Volunteers In Mission ministry statewide, and traveled to natural disaster sites and developing countries to provide assistance.
Writing about him for a church newsletter, the Rev. Maxine Allen called him "the champion of collaboration and partnerships" who "loved Philander Smith College and was strategic in helping to locate the conference offices there."
His wife, Brenda Weeks, described him as a "good, good man" with a need to "give back to people devastated by loss of homes, property, jobs. He took that very seriously and worked very hard."
Because her husband battled COPD lung problems, he was careful to follow covid-19 safety rules, his wife said.
Even so, he began feeling ill in August and recorded a positive test result for the virus on Aug. 11, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report. By Aug. 15, his fever up and oxygen levels down, he was admitted to Baptist Health Medical Center. "His lungs weren't strong enough to recover," his wife said.
The longtime Tulsa resident was disabled but could participate at his church, including singing in the male chorus, said his sister, Katherene Scott.
He moved to Little Rock last year to be closer to family and deal with health issues that included diabetes. Before he contracted covid-19, he was living in his own apartment, and spending time with family and friends.
The father of three came down with a gastrointestinal illness last month. "We figured it was a virus, not the virus," his sister said. She and her husband took Berry to the hospital Aug. 6, 2020. Health care workers said he had symptoms of covid-19, admitted him, and told family they would not be allowed to visit. He tested positive for covid-19 on Aug. 13, according to a coroner's report.
"It was hard on the family because we couldn't see him, and hard because he couldn't see his family," Scott said.
At Baptist Health Medical Center for more than two weeks, "he was doing pretty good at first, then in a couple of days didn't do so well, then pretty good." As he worsened again, Berry agreed to go on a ventilator, but went downhill, his sister said.
Known as "Mama Chook" and "Mrs. Chook" from a childhood nickname, she told her children whenever they had a problem: "Let's pray about it."
"It used to aggravate me when I was young. I would say 'Mama, we have to do more than just pray,'" said a daughter, Glenda Hagood of Little Rock. "But I've learned as I've grown older, I realized she was saying: Let's stop, pray, consider, before we take action."
"Her faith was the biggest thing. She lived a life of faith."
As her children grew up, Simpkins loved cooking, canning and baking, especially cakes, Hagood said. Later in life, fishing became her favorite pastime.
As her health deteriorated, her large family was able to take turns staying with her, to keep her in her home in Dumas. In addition to her eight children and five stepchildren, she had 29 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren and 29 great-great grandchildren, according to her obituary.
"She had the ability to make every person she touched feel they were her favorite," her daughter said. "Every one of us claims to be the favorite. In actuality, every one was the favorite."
In early August, Simpkins tested positive for covid-19 and stopped eating. She was admitted to Baptist Health Medical Center on Aug. 6, and was alert and responded to nurses the first few days but then began to decline.
"Besides her death, the hardest thing was not being able to see her and her not being able to see family," Hagood said. "She had never been away from her family. That went on for about two weeks. When we heard we were losing her, I was fortunate to get to go to the hospital and be with her."
Hagood said the family wants the public to know "how important it is to wear masks and do the things the CDC guidelines call for, especially when it comes to our elderly because they are so vulnerable."
When Johnson first fell ill in early July, she ascribed it to an annual bout with "the crud."
She told son Jason Johnson around noon July 11 that she hadn't felt well for a few days, but didn't need help and was staying hydrated.
Within three hours, she struggled to breathe and asked to go to the hospital by ambulance. Her son was immediately alarmed. She detested hospitals and was loathe to seek help. "This woman never asked for anything. She could be starving to death, and she wouldn't take a piece of bread from you," he said.
Dorothy Johnson was matriarch of a southeast Arkansas family of seven: husband, four sons and a daughter. She made ends meet on a seamstress salary from the Hamburg Shirt Factory, where she worked for decades, supplemented by her husband's disability checks.
"It put food on the table," her son said, adding that the family was "dirt poor."
Dorothy Johnson was stern but ready to help others, he said. "It didn't matter the case or cause. ... She may tell them how stupid they were for doing it, but she'd help them."
It's not clear how she contracted the virus, her son said. After she was hospitalized July 11 at the Ashley County Medical Center, she transferred July 29 to Baptist Health-North Little Rock. She was on and off a ventilator as her condition worsened and improved, her son said. A few family members saw her a final time in the minutes before she died.
Ratliff was living at home before she got sick with covid-19. "She enjoyed watching TV, walking outside and doing the little things," said her nephew, Brandon Cartwright.
She began feeling ill in early August, went to a nearby hospital Aug. 10, and was diagnosed with pneumonia and covid-19. From there, her health deteriorated rapidly. She was transported to Baptist Health-Little Rock, where she died three days later, according to a coroner's report.
Ratliff, who lived her entire life in Holly Grove, left behind no children, but had several nieces and nephews, Cartwright said. Family members had no idea how she caught the virus.
He enjoyed camping, fishing, watching movies and spending time with family. His health was generally good -- he controlled Type 2 diabetes with diet and medication, said his son-in-law, Darren Warren.
The Marine veteran worked for Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, delivering blood and plasma to hospitals in Northwest Arkansas. Though it's unknown how Hutcheson contracted covid-19, family members say it may have happened as he delivered blood and plasma.
"He was wearing a mask and gloves and taking precautions," Warren said. "But he recounted an instance where a man was short of breath and about to pass out. He didn't get close, but was within the vicinity. We just don't know."
In early July, Hutcheson and his wife, Aurora, both started feeling ill with dry cough, runny nose and fatigue. They went to Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas on July 4 with breathing problems and were diagnosed with pneumonia. They were treated and went home, Warren said.
The next day, after Bruce Hutcheson's oxygen level dropped, he went back to the emergency room and tested positive for covid-19. He stayed at the hospital three days, but improved enough to go home. His wife, who also had a positive covid-19 test, was able to recover at home. On July 12, Bruce Hutcheson experienced gastrointestinal problems and, soon, breathing difficulties. He was readmitted to Mercy and given high levels of oxygen.
For the next month, at Mercy and later at the VA Medical Center, Hutcheson fought the virus, sometimes gasping for air as he talked to family members by phone, Warren said.
After a difficult transfer to the VA hospital on July 17, he called his daughter, April Warren, to tell her he was going on a ventilator. "He tried to keep her from getting upset," Darren Warren said. "He told her that God had told him he would live and to get all the family together to pray for him. We got the family together out in front of the VA where the flags are and prayed for him. That was the last conversation April had with her dad."
"He was quite the fighter," Warren said. During Hutcheson's 26 days on a ventilator, "we thought at one point he was doing pretty good. They were going to do a tracheotomy and slowly bring him off the ventilator. But he got an infection and couldn't beat it."
Among Arkansas' younger victims of covid-19, Watson was a security department captain at Baptist Health-Conway.
Watson's mother, Rosemary Watson, said her son started feeling sick while at work.
According to a Pulaski County coroner's report, he went to Baptist Health-North Little Rock on July 19, complaining of shortness of breath and confusion. He tested positive for covid-19.
Admitted to the hospital, he seemed in good condition at first but rapidly declined over the next several days.
Watson graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in criminal justice and began his career in security at Baptist Health in Conway more than a decade ago, his mother said. He was engaged to be married and had three children, ages 6, 7 and 10, his mother said.
"He just loved being around his family," she said. "If he wasn't with his family, he was at work."
The longtime Harrison doctor was still practicing in an urgent care office when he began feeling ill in late July 2020.
"He was a wonderful, wonderful doctor and a good diagnostician," said his sister-in-law, Lyndia Lee. "And he was good to people. He would buy medicine for people and take it to them. I've had so many people tell me, 'Dr. Lee saved my life,' 'Dr. Lee sent me to a specialist who saved my life.'"
A family doctor and surgeon by training, the father of three practiced in Texas before deciding to move back to the family homestead at Hasty about 25 years ago, according to his sister-in-law. His parents were still living then, and he also enjoyed working on the family ranch.
He and another doctor operated a Mediquick urgent care office in Harrison. When Lee's partner decided seven or eight years ago to retire, "Roy wasn't ready to retire. He never wanted to retire," his sister-in-law said.
When he started feeling sick in late July, he thought it was a flare-up of a bird flu contracted years ago. When he didn't get better, a nurse at his office said, "'Doc, let's test you for covid,' And sure enough, he had it," his sister-in-law said.
No one knew whether he contracted the virus from a patient or from people he spoke with -- and often hugged -- at the grocery store and other stops around town, she said.
Hospitalized about July 28, he spent almost two weeks at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. "He really did fight. He only went on the ventilator two days before he died," his sister-in-law said. Asked by the hospital staff, "'Will you be willing to go on a ventilator?' he said, 'Yes I will, but I'm not going to have to do that.'"
Throughout his life, Lee played old-time and popular tunes on the fiddle. In Texas, he had friends and acquaintances in the country music business: "Mickey Gilley, Ray Price, Willie Nelson of all people," said his sister-in-law.
"He loved every morning getting up, having his coffee and reading his Bible. He loved going to the Moose Club and playing his fiddle," she said. "He was quite a fellow in every way."
According to a Pulaski County coroner's report, Lopez was feeling ill when he arrived in the U.S. from Mexico less than two weeks before he died.
He tested positive for the covid-19 on Aug. 7, according to the coroner's report. Three days later, at a family member's home, he went into arrest and was transported to Baptist Health Medical Center. He died there that evening.
The coroner's report listed no history of medical problems.
The Marvell native and mother of five worked as an in-home caregiver for the sick and disabled. She also raised vegetables, and cooked and canned to feed her family, according to her daughter, Lois Glass.
"She grew peas, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, greens. She didn't even like okra herself," her daughter said. Ford also grew flowers in her front yard and loved to go fishing. In addition to her children, she helped raise grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Ford moved to Fayetteville in about 2016 to live with Glass. As her health declined, she moved to Fayetteville Health and Rehabilitation Center. She tested positive July 17 for covid-19 but didn't have symptoms, her daughter said. Dementia was the main contributor to her mother's death, she was told.
"She was the best mom, grandma, sister, auntie. She cared about her family members and was a giver," Glass said. When anyone came to visit, "she always sent them back with something" she had prepared.
The native of El Salvador moved to Washington state in February where one of his sons lived, according to another son, Jose Palacios Calderon of Springdale.
But Washington weather was too cold. So Palacios, a father of nine, moved in April to Siloam Springs and was "relieved" to find the climate more like El Salvador's, his son said.
In El Salvador, Palacios spent many years as a coffee plantation foreman. When he became too old, he worked his own land growing coffee beans. In Arkansas, he stayed busy caring for grandchildren, nieces and nephews, according to his son. He liked to play the guitar and sing, but didn't dance because his church didn't approve.
Palacios is believed to have contracted covid-19 during a visit from a niece who worked at a poultry plant, his son said. He tested positive July 3, according to a Benton County coroner's report.
A diabetic whose illness wasn't well-controlled, Palacios was more vulnerable to the virus than healthier people, doctors told the family. He developed fluid in his lungs, his son said. His wife and son Jose also were infected with the virus, but survived.
The Murray native and mother of three sang country music, and played guitar and bass with "The Blue Eagles" band, according to her son Toby Roland.
In her late 40s, she made two CDs in Nashville and talked with singing legend Porter Wagoner about getting into the business. Wagoner warned about the difficulties of starting relatively late in life, so she and her husband returned to Arkansas and happily played with their band in local Elk Lodges, churches and clubs.
Roland said the staff at Newton County Nursing Home told him this summer that she was ill, but he didn't know that the facility had any covid-19 cases.
After her death, he learned that the cause was "pneumonia as a consequence of covid-19." He soon heard a news report that the nursing home had reported dozens of cases of the virus. He wishes he had known sooner. "We could have decided whether to take her out or leave her there," he said.
"She was so kindhearted and giving," her son said. "If it's a good mother, you just can't say enough good things about her. She was religious, and loved music and family and people."
"He was handy," said his brother, Ralph Crabtree. "He did not need instructions to assemble lawn mowers and two-cycle engines."
The Texarkana native did odd jobs in Texas and Arkansas, and worked for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas for several years before health problems sent him into a Pine Bluff nursing home, according to his brother.
In his last few months, in and out of the hospital for other problems, Crabtree was tested repeatedly for the virus, and the results always came back negative, his brother said.
At The Villages of General Baptist Health Care East nursing home on July 17, he tested positive and was admitted three days later to Jefferson Regional Medical Center. The hospital "told me they put him on a breathing machine, and at one time he was doing pretty good," Crabtree's brother said. "Then after about 24 hours, he turned for the worst."
When his funeral procession reached Fire Station No. 5 in Pine Bluff, no fewer than 10 firefighters stood outside to salute. When the caravan turned onto Blake Street, a commercial area, it was greeted by a street-wide balloon release and cheers of: "We love you, Josh."
Handley died after a battle with covid-19, his sister Wendy Handley-Cail said. The funeral procession's route mirrored the Pine Bluff native's daily routine: he'd walk, nearly 10 miles some days, stopping at various businesses and the fire station to volunteer.
"Every -- and I mean every -- business on Blake Street had people out releasing balloons when the hearse was passing through," said Handley-Cail. "It was very powerful ... seeing the magnitude of people whose lives he touched."
Handley, who had a learning disability, lived with his father and loved his family but was dedicated to his service. He'd show up two hours before football games in the Watson Chapel School District, where he worked the first-down chains, his sister said.
"Anything that he did, he was devoted and loyal to it," Handley-Cail said. "He gave it 110% every time."
Handley's family doesn't know how he contracted covid-19. He was hospitalized for more than two weeks at Jefferson Regional Medical Center and was on a ventilator the entire time, his sister said.
Though he started his working life as an engineer for the Boeing Co. in New Orleans, Ginger in 1968 began training to become an eye doctor at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, according to his obituary. He opened his Pine Bluff office in 1972.
"In his spare time, Dr. Ginger loved to work on various projects in his shop, play musical instruments, sing and spend time with family," his obituary said.
The husband and father of one served as Jefferson County's District 6 Justice of the Peace until his death. County Judge Gerald Robinson told Quorum Court members that Ginger was hospitalized with covid-19 on July 9, 2020.
A coroner's report shows that he died of "cardiopulmonary arrest due to covid-19" at Jefferson Regional Medical Center.
She worked at a Tyson Foods plant in Pine Bluff, but her grandmother said in an interview that she did not know if that was where Flemister contracted the virus.
Bessie Bennett said her granddaughter did not know she had covid-19 until she was admitted to a hospital July 11 for treatment of high blood sugar.
Bennett said Flemister's preexisting conditions, which included diabetes and hypertension, likely resulted in covid-19 taking a much harder toll on her body. The Jefferson County coroner's report listed the cause of death as cardiorespiratory arrest and covid-19, and said she died in the intensive care unit at Jefferson Regional Medical Center.
Bennett said her granddaughter's name -- Joyah -- fit her, because she was a joy to be around and was always giving away baked goods and helping take care of her friends' children as if they were her own.
She said her granddaughter was her "traveling buddy" for road trips to visit relatives in destinations such as Texas, Mississippi and Memphis. Together with Flemister's mother, who died in July 2019, they were known to friends and family as "the three amigos" because they were always together. They enjoyed shopping, going to the casino, and having dinners and get-togethers at Bennett's house.
"She really cared about people, and she always met people with a smile and would do anything she could to help them," Bennett said. "She was a big-hearted person."
Wells had been in and out of prison for several years because of drug issues, his daughter Alena Konkel said.
Despite his problems, she described Wells was a "loving father" who enjoyed working on cars, painting houses and playing basketball with his 14-year-old grandson. "When he was out, he was spending time with me and his grandchildren," she said. "When he was home he was the caringest, lovingest man."
Konkel said her father was partially paralyzed by a stroke in June, and had been sent to the prison hospital at Ouachita River for care. He was there about a week, she said, before he returned to a hospital on July 6 and was diagnosed with covid-19. He was admitted with shortness of breath, a coroner's report said.
Konkel said she was not able to speak to her father while he was hospitalized. "I guess that's what's eating me the most," she said in an interview. "I didn't get to say goodbye."
"I always remember her as a little, tiny old lady. But when she talked, you listened," said her granddaughter, Jennifer Hartman.
The widow and mother of four was a nurturer, according to her obituary. "She could always be found tending her flowers, sewing beautiful embroidery and making meals for her large family. ... Everything about her exuded comfort and love. She made every day brighter and better."
"She never drove. She stayed at home," Hartman said. "She loved her Grand Ole Opry and Big Macs. She was fabulous. At the end, she had dementia, but she always knew me. She was an amazing person. She deserved to be fought for."
Hawkins' health began to decline soon after Arkansas in March locked down nursing homes to visitors, including Mitchell's Nursing Home in Danville where Hawkins was a resident. She was hospitalized three times between March and June for treatment after a fall, dehydration and other issues, Hartman said.
In mid-June before her release from Chambers Memorial Hospital in Danville, Hawkins tested negative for covid-19 and returned to Mitchell's for two weeks in isolation, her granddaughter said. While there, she tested positive. A little more than two weeks later, she died.
Since her grandmother's death, Hartman has called state officials and nursing home watchdogs trying to learn what more can be done to protect remaining residents at Mitchell's and in other nursing homes around the state.
An Army veteran who was drafted to protect the Panama Canal Zone in the Korean War, he married his childhood sweetheart in 1949. Sibley graduated from Memphis State University and worked for J.E. Dilworth Co. calling on industries in Arkansas and Mississippi, according to his obituary. In 1955, he moved to Helena and went on to establish Sibley Supply Co.
A longtime school board member, he was a Phillips County Chamber of Commerce "Citizen of the Year."
"All who knew Charles, knew that he was an avid outdoorsman and hunter," his obituary said. "He was a founding member of the Jackson Point Hunting Club. His legacy lives on with his trophies shared among his children and grandchildren."
Alzheimer's disease forced him to move to Crestpark of Helena nursing home, where he tested positive for covid-19 in mid-June and developed pneumonia, according to daughter Cathy Campbell.
Sibley's wife, Doris, and their three children visited him daily at the nursing home and at a local hospital, looking in from outdoors through windows.
"He was 92 when he died. He had lived a long life, a good life. He was a good man," Campbell said. "The problem was we couldn't be with him."
The Sibleys opted for a family-only funeral, with almost everyone speaking about him, then gathered at the Jackson Point Hunting Club, she said.
"We had food and fellowship. Everywhere we looked, we knew he was in the middle of it. We did as good a job honoring him as we could under these circumstances."
A mechanic who could fix anything, DeMarco's hobbies included flying airplanes and rebuilding damaged aircraft, according to a son, Tony DeMarco.
"He's flown all his life. We would go to the Midwest, and get wrecked airplanes and trailer them back to California," his son said. "He would literally put them back together, fly them, sell them, get another."
An Army veteran, Al DeMarco served in Korea and received a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds. The husband and father of three moved to Arkansas from California about 30 years ago. He survived a single-engine plane crash on April 12, 2014, when he was 85. The crash happened soon after takeoff as he flew with a friend out of a Tulsa airport, according to news accounts.
In early June, DeMarco was hospitalized with an unrelated medical problem, his son said. Tony DeMarco and his wife, Marilyn, traveled from their Idaho home to Ozark to help. They weren't allowed to visit at the hospital. But a hospital staffer called on June 19 to release his father in an effort to protect him from covid-19 at the facility, the son said. At that time, his father had tested negative for the virus.
Albert, Tony and Marilyn DeMarco stayed at the father's Ozark house, quarantined. A week later, he tested positive for covid-19, and later his son and daughter-in-law did too.
"My wife and I definitely had the symptoms," Tony DeMarco said. "The fatigue was the worst. You'd walk across a room and be exhausted. But my dad started to go more and more downhill. We tried to get him to move, tried to get him to eat. ... He was cold all the time, had a fever, was achy.
"One morning, he had a super-high fever, and we called an ambulance."
DeMarco was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville where he died. Tony DeMarco said he and his wife, both 66, are back in Idaho and mostly recovered.
Giles was born in Prescott and moved to Hot Springs where he graduated from high school. At 18, he struck out to find his fortune in California and made it as far as Gary, Ind., before finding a job.
He retired about three years ago and moved back to Arkansas after 42 years at U.S. Steel, where he was head electrician. He also owned an electrician business for 30 years.
"He cracked jokes and loved to play with his grandkids," said his son, Mack Giles Jr. "He was a really giving guy. He took care of all the kids in the neighborhood. He was a great father. He came to every football game and track meet I had, even if he had to work double shifts just to make it there."
"He did a whole lot of fishing. Crappie. He would freeze them up and eat them," Giles Jr. said. "He was still trying to find a good fishing hole here before he got sick."
Giles Sr., normally energetic, became lethargic toward the end of May and didn't feel well. His son took him to Baptist Health-Little Rock on a Sunday where the elder man was treated, tested for covid-19 and released. His son called the hospital the next night and learned his father had tested positive.
"Who knows where you get coronavirus?" his son said. His father had talked only about going "to some gas station and got coffee and a couple days later didn't feel good."
After the positive test, his son said, he took his father back to the hospital in early June "and he never came home."
Giles Sr. was treated for more than a week before being placed on a ventilator. The father of 10 was on the machine for about three weeks before he died, Giles Jr. said.
Not being able to visit or communicate was difficult.
"They wouldn't allow anybody up there. They need to change that," his son said. "I got to talk to him a couple of times [by phone] before they put him on a ventilator, but that was it. I don't know if he knew we were thinking about him or not when he passed."
He was a bomb dog handler with the U.S. Air Force, retiring after 21 years, and helped created the drug and bomb dog unit while working the next 20 years at the Pulaski County sheriff's office. Dillon's last career was as a U.S. Marshal at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.
"He was full of life, and he lived a great life," said his daughter, Melissa Bounds. "He loved telling stories of where he'd been with the military, his experience with his dogs and with criminals.
"He was a strong man that everybody loved, and he never met a stranger -- a good old southern boy from McNary, Tennessee."
Dillon was hospitalized May 1 with health issues unrelated to covid-19 and was sent for rehab to Woodland Hills Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville. He was quarantined at first, since he had transferred from a hospital, then twice tested negative for covid-19, his daughter said.
Bounds, of Nashville, Tenn., asked her father by phone to stay in his room, but he often ventured into the halls of the nursing home, she said.
In early June, his daughter got a call saying Dillon was showing symptoms of the virus and had tested positive. He was taken by ambulance to Baptist Health-North Little Rock on June 5, according to a coroner's report.
The widower and father of two fought the coronavirus for four weeks at the hospital. Bounds and other family members weren't allowed to visit, but were grateful that one son was allowed to suit up in personal protective gear to be with his dad as he died.
"Everyone liked RJ. If you met him, you knew why. He was kind, gentle, patient, and a great listener," according to the obituary written by his daughter, Ashley Deen.
"He could find a silver lining in the darkest cloud and show you how to see it, too. He gave the best hugs, like each might be his last. He fried the tastiest catfish you'd ever eat. He loved with his whole heart, just like his mama."
Blackburn, who had worked as a logger and a farmer, was a resident at Greenhurst Nursing Center in Charleston when he was hospitalized in Clarksville with an unrelated medical problem, his daughter said.
The widower and father of two tested positive for covid-19 in that hospital, but showed no symptoms.
"He tested positive on a Thursday," Deen said. "They called Sunday and said he was still asymptomatic. Then they called Monday and said, 'something is very wrong. We'll have to intubate him. And he'll have to be life-flighted to St. Vincent's in Little Rock." Blackburn was transferred June 23, diagnosed with covid-19 and pneumonia, according to a coroner's report.
Doctors at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary called daily with treatment plans, Deen said. But July 1, they said his vital signs were deteriorating, and they didn't expect him to live through the day.
Even if the hospital could have let her look through a window to say goodbye, Deen couldn't have been there.
During his illness, she and two of her daughters, who live in Hackett near Fort Smith, also tested positive and were ill and quarantined with covid-19. They contracted the virus separately from her father. They have recovered.
Neeley worked for more than 30 years in the cafeteria of the Cabot Public School District.
"She loved it," said daughter Lisa Garner. "She would stop the cafeteria line and give a child a hug or a kiss if they were crying because they missed their momma. The other workers would say, 'Miss Mable, you're holding up the line.' And she'd say, 'I've got to hug this baby's tears away.'
Neeley was known for her cakes, bread and rolls, her daughter said. She described Neeley as feisty and adventurous.
The Cabot resident was admitted to Baptist Health on June 10 after testing positive for covid-19. Garner said her mother had tested negative for the virus several times before receiving the positive result.
"She deteriorated quickly after that," Garner said. "She spent two weeks at Baptist, and she developed pneumonia in her left lung."
Garner said a hospital health care worker called her just minutes before 4 p.m. on June 24.
"They said that she needed to hear from each of us kids that it was OK and to go on to heaven," Garner said. "The nurse told her, 'David, Darlene and Lisa said to go on to heaven. They've got it covered here.' Right after that, she passed away, at exactly 4 o'clock."
"He was a really good guy; a family man," said son Robert May. "He liked hunting. We spent 30 years going to the deer camp together."
"If he liked you, he really liked you. If he didn't, he really didn't. He saw through a lot of people."
Bobby and wife Frances May were married for 56 years. Their son said he doesn't believe his father died from covid-19 because he had been hospitalized for two months with a brain infection that required neurosurgery.
His father tested positive on June 22, the day before he died. "After his brain surgery, he went downhill. He didn't even know who everyone was," Robert May said. He had "been on life support for over a week."
The family had been with Bobby May every day at the hospital, but after he tested positive, "we were not allowed to be at the hospital when he died," his son said.
Bobby May worked for 40 years at ConAgra Foods in Russellville.
"He was just a real good mentor to me. He never missed work," Robert May said. "He had years and years of perfect attendance. I'm the same way."
A Little Rock native, Floyd was a wife and mother of three who worked for Timex for a decade and retired from Walmart.
"She was always on the go, doing whatever us boys wanted to do -- baseball, activities, school projects," said son Jason Floyd. "Even though she worked, when she had time off, she was always taking us places."
She also enjoyed crossword puzzles, reading and communicating with family members, including writing letters to those who lived elsewhere. "Family, not just immediate family but extended family, was very important to her," her son said. "She always wanted to make sure she was talking to her family, my dad's family ... and any chance to visit and see them, she made sure of that too."
Hazel Floyd contracted covid-19 while a resident at Robinson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in North Little Rock, according to her son. Husband Jerry Dean Floyd visited her there daily. He continued after she tested positive, even though she was quarantined and he could see her only through a window.
She was hospitalized June 18, experiencing shortness of breath, and died five days later.
A Prattsville native, Cooper was the fifth of eight children in a hardworking family. He worked at furniture and cleaning companies before starting his own janitorial service, according to his obituary. He went on to operate Zion Bus Co.
His early love was serving in his church in many positions, including as deacon.
"It was always known he would become a preacher," the obituary said.
He served churches in Grapevine and Sheridan for many years. In 1990, the father of four received an honorary doctorate degree from Arkansas Baptist College.
He was a resident of The Waters of White Hall nursing home when he was diagnosed with covid-19.
Born in New Bedford, Mass., in 1918, she worked for 24 years as a final inspector of rubber goods -- such as windshield wipers and gas masks -- at Acushnet Process Co. in Massachusetts.
The mother of two moved to Jacksonville in 2008 to live with daughter Nancy McCuen.
"She loved to read, and she was a die-hard watcher of QVC. She loved that home shopping stuff," McCuen said. "Music was the highlight of her life. Frank Sinatra, Vince Gill. Willie Nelson. She was always listening to them and would sit in her chair clapping through the songs."
A resident of Woodland Hills Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Jacksonville, Ferreira tested positive for covid-19 on May 28. "They said she was asymptomatic," her daughter said. "The next day we got another call, and she had started developing symptoms. She lasted about a week and a half. She was a fighter."
A family medicine doctor, Hull started as a lab and X-ray technician working seven nights a week on emergency call to put himself through college, according to his obituary.
The Tennessee native received a bachelor of science degree at Tennessee Tech in business management and completed medical school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.
He and his wife raised their four children in Rogers and later Gentry. He opened his practice in Rogers in 1972 and worked until his death. Hull also was an Army veteran, an ordained deacon and minister, and an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman, his obituary said. He died at Washington Regional Medical Center, according to a coroner's report.
Cheryl Hull, a daughter, announced his death in a Facebook post, saying "our wonderful, loving, irreplaceable, kind, compassionate Father passed away from covid-19."
U.S. Sen. John Boozman and Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised Hull.
"Not only was he an excellent doctor, but he was also a great example of a life dedicated to love of family, community and the Lord," Boozman said in a statement. "We lost someone who we should all strive to be more like."
Hutchinson said Hull was "my family physician years ago," and an example of "a life well-led that has passed."
An Eagle Scout and Air Force veteran, Crawford got his first sales experience as a boy in scorecard sales for the Arkansas Travelers baseball team, according to his obituary.
After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, he began a lifelong career in life insurance and won his company's highest national sales award.
"He was a special guy who had a lot of impact on everybody he came into contact with," said his son, Bob Crawford. "He was always positive about everything."
The father of two "was a dedicated Razorback fan, rooting on the Hogs in football, basketball and baseball for many years. He was an inaugural member of the Touchdown Club in Little Rock and took great joy in the recap of each week's games and previews of upcoming opponents," his obituary said. He also was a golfer who "took pride in being able to shoot his age," and was an avid horse racing fan.
A resident of Fox Ridge assisted living in Little Rock, he was hospitalized after a fall June 1 and tested positive for covid-19.
Serving a 40-year prison sentence, Akins pleaded guilty in 2007 to 11 counts of rape and nine counts of second-degree sexual abuse between 2003 and 2006 at Gingerbread Day Care in Van Buren. Victims ranged in age from 3 to 8.
According to the Jefferson County coroner's report, Akins died in the intensive-care unit at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, of cardiorespiratory arrest and covid-19.
She gave personalized service to her customers during 20 years of owning Fashion Cleaners in Jacksonville, according to her son, Jerry Kennedy. She was a hard worker who liked to joke. She taught her three children manners and respect.
"She was my friend. That's what I'm going to remember most about her," he said.
Nina Kennedy was admitted to Baptist Health Medical Center in North Little Rock on May 30 with acute respiratory distress syndrome, hypoxia and other issues, according to the Pulaski County coroner's report. She tested positive for covid-19 two days later.
The hospital called her son. "'If you want to see your mother, you need to come up here now,'" he said a staff member told him. "I had to wear the suit and the glasses, everything, but I saw her for a little bit. I rubbed her on the forehead, and she seemed to calm down a little bit. I told her it was OK and told her I loved her."
"People need to realize this virus is real," he said. "If it happens to someone down the street, then it's no big deal to people. But if it happens to your mother, your brother or sister, then it's suddenly a big deal."
Wigner owned a construction businesses in states including Texas and Arkansas, said his sister, Patsy Mize.
The Michigan native and father of two "was a sweetheart," she said. "He was a cutie. He had everything going for him. That's why he was married so many times. He had the attitude, 'I'm God's gift to women,' and it worked."
A resident at the Courtyard Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in El Dorado, Wigner was hospitalized June 1 with an abdominal aortic aneurysm and tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report.
Mize said Wigner had a history of health issues, and she believes the aneurysm is what actually caused his death.
Gentry was a resident of The Lakes at Maumelle Health and Rehabilitation. She was in good enough health to wheel herself around the facility and perform many personal tasks, said her granddaughter, Jennifer Williams.
She tested negative for the virus at the nursing home in early May, but was admitted to a hospital May 16 with shortness of breath and other symptoms. There, she tested positive.
Gentry and her late husband had built a house on Old Country Lane in Cabot decades before the city experienced a population boom.
"She was a homemaker. She had the best gardening skills you could imagine," Williams said. "She had a half-acre garden where she canned and had bees, cows and pigs. It was just a beautiful garden."
Growing up, Williams said, she spent most weekends with her grandmother and grandfather.
"She cooked all the time and was a great baker and seamstress. She could sew anything, and she made quilts and clothes. Williams said her grandmother is being buried in a dress suit that Gentry made for herself.
Gentry "had a stroke and couldn't speak anymore, but she could say, 'I love you.' Up until covid, she could fight off everything. But she couldn't fight this off," Williams said.
Nelson tested positive for the virus May 17 while at the Courtyard Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in El Dorado.
"She was dehydrated," said Karla Nelson, her daughter. "They sent her to the emergency room in El Dorado, where they gave her fluids, then transported her to Little Rock. She was very sick. Covid had attacked her kidneys and was affecting her breathing."
The mother of three was an organized and productive homemaker. Her daughter remembers her as "sweet" and always working on "little projects" to help others.
"We didn't eat out at restaurants. We had three hot, home-cooked meals a day," Karla Nelson said. "She always had a certain task she would do every day, whether it was dusting on Monday or mopping the next."
"I got to see her before she passed away," her daughter said. "The nurse let me look through the window."
The resident of The Lakes at Maumelle nursing home tested positive for the covid-19 May 7 and experienced a "rapid decline," according to a coroner's report.
Her son Lynn Cook said his mother -- who lived in Pulaski County but had roots in Monroe County's Brinkley and Clarendon areas -- spent her life in service to others.
She worked as an activities director in nursing homes in Brinkley and Judsonia, and cared for elderly people in their homes, Cook said. Taylor loved camping, reading, watching the St. Louis Cardinals, and quilting, according to her obituary. The mother of five sons was known by friends and family as "Me Maw Connie."
The so-called blue-light rapist, who was convicted of using flashing blue lights to pull over and attack female motorists, died while serving a life term, officials said.
A Pulaski County coroner's report said Burmingham tested positive for covid-19 and was admitted to the UAMS Medical Center before his death.
The United Methodist pastor and his wife, Bonda, developed coughs in early March and were tested March 25 for the virus.
They were admitted to a Conway hospital March 27, the same day their tests came back positive. She was released three days later. He stayed, worsened and was placed on a ventilator April 1, his wife said.
"Norm was a faithful United Methodist minister with an artist's soul, who was able to touch people deep in their souls," said Arkansas Conference Bishop Gary Mueller in an email.
"The way he fought his battle with Covid bravely and faithfully over many weeks witnesses to his deep faith in God's grace. He now is part of the Church Triumphant."
Parmenter's friends called her "Charlie," said her daughter, Lisa Brimble.
A generous spirit who "would help anybody," Parmenter was an animal lover who always kept dogs. Divorced when her three children were small, she worked different jobs, including for the John Deere company in Iowa.
"She worked very hard all of her life," Brimble said. "Supporting three kids, that's hard."
Parmenter eventually remarried. She moved into Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center about five years ago and developed dementia. Brimble said Parmenter's siblings and her kids would have liked to see her before she died, but that wasn't possible because of visitor restrictions.
"She went to the hospital once, and they wouldn't even let us in the hospital, in the covid ward," she added.
Parmenter's home in Jonesboro, where her second husband still lived, was destroyed by a tornado earlier this year.
He was a resident of Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
A four-decades-long employee at Emerson Electric in Paragould, Stuart enjoyed music, dancing and trips to Biloxi, Miss., according to his daughter, Jennifer Williams. He developed dementia before he turned 60 and had been at the nursing home for several years.
The nursing home staff informed family members that Stuart had tested positive for the virus, but believed his physical wellness would help him fight off the disease.
He suddenly became unresponsive, was taken to a Jonesboro hospital, then back to the nursing home. Visitors weren't allowed at either place.
"It was real, real tough," Williams said. "We couldn't be there."
Davis spent much of his younger life in California and moved back to Arkansas as an adult. He loved the outdoors – gardening and fishing, particularly, his brother Montey Davis said.
Montey said he didn't know his older brother had contracted the illness until he got a call from a doctor asking for permission to take Morris off life support. "I had no idea that he was even sick," Montey said.
According to court and newspaper records, Davis was serving a 10-year term for manslaughter in the 2010 killing of his wife.
The New York native, Army and Navy veteran, and father of three studied microbiology and criminal justice in college, and later expanded his love of learning to history, world religions, politics and science, according to his obituary.
Fox's obituary said he was "very likely among the first Trekkies," the name for hard-core fans of the television series "Star Trek." He amassed "dozens, if not hundreds" of Star Trek memorabilia, including signed photographs, and met actors George Takei and Leonard Nimoy, according to son Talen Fox.
Mike Fox was a resident of the Allay Health and Rehab nursing home in Little Rock, where five residents have contracted covid-19 and two have died. Visiting John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans' Hospital on April 24 for an unrelated health issue, Fox tested positive for covid-19, his son said.
"He kind of had the expectation that 'this was it,'" said Talen Fox, who spoke by phone with his father after he was hospitalized. "He wasn't sure if he would recover, and if he didn't, he just wanted us to know that he loved us."
Davis, who died in the prison infirmary from covid-19, was a survivor of the deadly 1959 Negro Boys Industrial School fire.
He was quoted in an Arkansas Gazette news account about the tragedy that killed 21 of 69 boys locked in for the night at the reform school in Pulaski County's Wrightsville. Davis' story also was featured in a 2008 Arkansas Times article.
Conditions at the school were horrific, researchers reported later, with boys wearing rags, going for weeks without bathing or changing clothes and with no access to safe drinking water. Some had committed petty crimes, others were simply orphans.
Survivors of that fire "managed to claw their way to safety by knocking out two of the window screens. Amidst the choking, blinding smoke and heat, four or five boys at a time tried to fight their way forward through the narrow openings as the fire began to devour them," according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
Davis told the Arkansas Times that he was the second or third to escape after prying off interior and exterior window screens. The first person in the window was afraid to jump and had to be pushed, he said.
Davis spent most of his adult life in prison, for crimes including murder. "He denies committing the murder," the Arkansas Times article said.
Hill loved to fish, said her older brother, Willie Turner. She'd often cross the state line to fish for bream at Lake Corney, a small body of water in Louisiana's Union Parish.
One of nine children, Hill worked in maintenance at a nursing home before health issues forced her to stop. She adored bingo and any card game, and always had "a bunch of lady friends," Turner said.
"She loved life; she loved her family and friends," he added. "Everybody really hated that this happened to her."
Turner said he thought his sister got sick while being treated at a dialysis center in El Dorado. When she tested positive, she was admitted to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where she stayed for more than 10 days.
The hospital staff called Turner late one night to tell him his sister's heart had stopped. They wanted to know about her wishes for resuscitation if it happened again, he said. "I told them she was always a fighter, and we always want to give it the best chance she has," he said. She died about an hour later.
Described by her daughter as "spunky," Kelley grew up among 12 siblings on a farm in Wabbaseka, in Jefferson County, and worked for nearly four decades at the Pine Bluff factory once called Mid-America Packaging.
Kelley's stint included time on the line making plastic bags for items such as dog food, and she had a lengthy run as union president, her daughter Beth Dial said.
"She didn't hesitate to speak up when she thought someone was wronged," Dial said. "She loved to kid. She loved to cut up. She was the life of the party when she was younger."
Kelley lived at The Waters of White Hall nursing home for a couple of years, Dial said, moving there from an assisted-living facility because she needed more help with daily activities.
Dial learned April 26 that Kelley had tested positive for covid-19 and asked that her mother be transferred to Jefferson Regional Medical Center for treatment. Kelley died a week later.
The resident of The Waters at White Hall nursing home liked to watch western movies and TV shows, and was fun-loving, said a family member.
A native of Yorktown in Conway County, he was admitted to a Pine Bluff hospital with respiratory failure. After his hospital admission, family members learned that he had tested positive for the covid-19.
A licensed clinical social worker, Hensley was a St. Louis native who worked for social work providers in Illinois and Arkansas. She especially enjoyed gardening and was a Lifetime Arkansas Master Gardener.
Hensley's "sharp wit, brilliant mind and tenderness toward others enriched everyone she knew," her obituary said.
Despite declining health, the widow and mother of two stayed in her Maumelle home until recently. She moved into The Lakes at Maumelle Health and Rehabilitation early this year under hospice care, according to her daughter, Cindy Milazzo, of Maumelle.
Hensley tested positive for covid-19 about April 21, 2020. She never showed symptoms, Milazzo said, though the virus contributed to her death.
The Lakes nursing home, closed to visitors, provided computers for residents to talk to their families. "That allowed me to FaceTime her every day, even though she was nonresponsive" toward the end, Milazzo said. "They put earphones on her, and I was able to tell her how much she was loved."
Her husband of 62 years, Lynn Bitner, said his wife had been living at The Lakes at Maumelle since January, being treated for Alzheimer's disease. His wife contracted covid-19 from her roommate at the facility and was housed in isolation for about two weeks before she died.
Her husband said he received a call Sunday from doctors who said she was doing better. Then around 2 a.m. Monday, he said, he received another call informing him that she had died. The couple was married for 62 years.
"It was a shock to me because I thought she had turned the corner and was going to beat it," Lynn Bitner said.
The Hamburg native spent much of her adult life in Chicago with her husband, where they both worked at the Mars Inc., chocolate factory, her granddaughter Kymara Seals said. They returned to south Arkansas in 1984 and built a home in Hamburg.
Council contracted the coronavirus as a resident of The Waters of White Hall, where she had lived since September 2018 with Alzheimer's disease. She enjoyed reviewing old pictures with her visiting granddaughters, talking by phone with a group of friends known as the "Golden Girls" and listening to gospel music, Seals said.
It's not clear how Council caught the virus, but Seals was notified of her positive test on March 31. Council was asymptomatic for the first week, but stopped eating the following week and experienced kidney problems.
Gullett was a retired secretary with the Southwestern Bell Co., "strong-willed and an avid fan of Razorback football," close friend Teddie Siebert said.
Gullett went to The Village at Valley Ranch nursing home earlier in April to recover from a sprained ankle, Siebert said. She was there only a few days, in isolation, before getting sick. Gullett was admitted to a hospital about a week before she died and tested positive for covid-19.
Wife of former mayor and state lawmaker Gregg Reep, she showed symptoms of covid-19 a few days after returning home from a European vacation.
Described as a trip-of-a-lifetime, the Reeps left March 5, before the nation began shutdowns and travel warnings to slow the coronavirus. A retired history teacher, she was hospitalized for more than a month before her death, her husband said in an interview.
Gregg Reep said his wife's devotion and support sustained him and took him to heights he otherwise never would have experienced.
"I never would have accomplished anything without her," Reep said. "She was the first lady of Warren for 18 years. She was right there with me the entire time I was in public service. She was very supportive. She was my rock."
She helped raise her two granddaughters, loved her family and enjoyed bird-watching and planting flowers (her favorite was the rose).
Lewellan was admitted to a hospital April 6 from Briarwood nursing home. She had preexisting conditions including respiratory problems and heart failure. She was intubated and unable to speak to her family during her last days, her granddaughter Patience Peterson said.
An Army veteran who was stationed in Germany when the Berlin Wall was erected, Drabelle spent most of his adult life in Torrance, Calif., his daughter Sheri Brown said.
Drabelle retired from Pacific Bell in the early 1990s, and he and his wife moved to Maumelle in 2006 to be closer to Brown, his only child.
He lived at The Lakes at Maumelle nursing home for about 10 years, and showed no symptoms of illness for nearly two weeks after testing positive for covid-19, Brown said.
A Central High School graduate, Richardson was recruited by Razorback Coach Lou Holtz and started for four years at nose guard for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1979-82. He earned All-Southwest Conference first-team honors in 1982.
"I coached 44 years in high school, and we had some great players, but none of them had a better heart or cared more about the game of football and his teammates than Richard Richardson," longtime Central High School head coach Bernie Cox told a sports reporter.
"Richard was 100% Tiger when he played for Central, and when he went to Arkansas he was 100% Hog."
Richardson worked as a substance abuse counselor and celebrated 29 years of abstinence before he died, according to his obituary. He tested positive for covid-19 after being admitted to a hospital suffering from respiratory problems.
A caregiver who was a snazzy dresser, "green thumb" vegetable gardener and gifted home cook, Christian's specialty was turnip greens, said her daughter, Cynthia Henderson. She was married but raised seven children essentially on her own.
Recently hospitalized with kidney problems, Christian's heart stopped while receiving dialysis at an outpatient center. She received CPR and was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where she was tested for covid-19 before she died.
Henderson said the family learned about the diagnosis a few days after her mother's death. "We were shocked, because we didn't know," she said.
York worked as a trucker and once, on a drive, saved a child's life by stopping traffic when he saw the boy fall out of the back of a moving truck. He won an award for his actions.
The avid hunter, fisherman and fixer of cars and lawn mowers appeared to be healthy. York's family members don't know how he contracted covid-19.
He first experienced symptoms March 25, when he started having trouble breathing, according to family members. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance, and within a few hours was placed in intensive care and intubated.
Veranda York first met her husband at a card party and was drawn to his kindness. Shelley liked "tinkering with things," like cars and lawn mowers. He was a hunter and avid fisherman, Veranda York said.
"If somebody needed something fixed, he would go and fix it," said Shellena York, Shelley's daughter.
He worked as a geophysicist who specialized in finding offshore oil in the Gulf of Mexico and was vice president of a Houston oil and gas company. He loved golf, was an Arkansas Repertory Theatre usher and traveled often with his wife, Ann West, to places like the Mediterranean, Russia and Denmark, she said.
Cottrell went into a hospital Feb. 19 for heart surgery and contracted covid-19 while hospitalized. He tested positive for the virus March 27 and admitted himself into hospice care.
"We'd always talked about not wanting to be kept alive if we didn't have a quality of life," West said. "This is a terrible time to get sick and a terrible time to leave this world, but we respect and understand his wishes."
Baptist Health nurses helped set up phone calls and one FaceTime video call during Cottrell's last days, West said.
During their last call, she could hear his labored breathing through the phone receiver.
"He was able to respond to me," West said of one of her final calls with her husband. "I was able to tell him how much I loved him and to thank him for the memories."
He had a son, two daughters and twin granddaughters. Among his favorite pastimes was playing with his dog, Champ.
Among the oldest Arkansans to die of covid-19, Blount worked in a finance office at the Arkansas Capitol and helped run a dry-cleaning business.
A resident of Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, she was among several dozen residents there who tested positive for the virus.
Born in Alexandria, La., on Aug. 10, 1912, Blount lost her mother during childhood. Her father moved the family to North Little Rock when she was a schoolgirl, according to Andrews and a sister, Julie Andrews, of Bradenton, Fla.
Blount survived the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II and 75 more years of war and peace, prosperity and recessions. She lived through the terms of 19 U.S. presidents, William Taft to Donald Trump.
Red-haired, Blount liked to wear dress clothing and full makeup, with well-coiffed hair and fingernails. She never learned to drive, so she walked or rode buses in Little Rock.
Her two children, who have died, were a son, Arden Powell Andrews, and a daughter, Ada Patricia Andrews. The daughter was a special-needs child born with Down syndrome.
After the death of her second husband, Aubrey Blount, in 1982, Blount lived alone in her Capitol View neighborhood home for two decades, until she was 91.
When a fall that year broke her hip, Blount went to Briarwood for rehab -- and never left, Keith Andrews said.
Until recent years, Blount took part in activities, ate meals with her table of friends and continued to dress up daily.
Asked how her grandmother came to live such a long life, Julie Andrews at first said she didn't know, then added: "She never smoked. She never drank. She knew the Lord. She was a lovely lady. The only time she had a health issue was when she fell and broke her hip."
Blount celebrated her 100th birthday in 2012, with family members from several states joining her. Her grandchildren shared pictures of her 102nd birthday and other gatherings, including a visit on Valentine's Day this year.
The former Southwestern Bell employee started showing symptoms in early March after a trip to the Bahamas with her sister and before the first case was discovered in Arkansas.
Jacuzzi loved gardening, interior decorating and organizing elaborate holiday celebrations for her family.
The Little Rock woman had to wait five days for test results showing that she was infected with covid-19. She was hospitalized as her condition worsened.
"It's still weird," her son Casey Jacuzzi said. "With the whole pandemic, it hasn't really sunk in yet that she's gone."
Jacuzzi was a talented artist who liked to paint with watercolors and arrange flowers. She did the flowers for her son's wedding. After her younger sister Rita Caver's boyfriend died, Jacuzzi was there within hours to help and traveled with her sister many times subsequently.
The sisters left for the Bahamas in late February before there were any known coronavirus cases in Arkansas, and before U.S. cautions and shutdowns related to the disease. When Jacuzzi first got sick, her family thought it might be a cold or flu. A lung cancer survivor, Jacuzzi was susceptible to getting sick often.
She was hospitalized for weeks and intubated before she died.
"She was very outgoing and very giving. Had many, many friends. And I won't have a bird-watching partner. And I know she had a whole lot more living to do and that was cut short," her husband, Richard Jacuzzi, said.
A Big Band singer, Jansen was "discovered" as a girl performing on local radio stations in Omaha, Neb., in the 1940s. That's when she got a call from the popular Frankie Carle Orchestra, auditioned over the phone and was hired, according to her son Drew, in an interview with the Island of Discarded Women podcast.
Jansen toured with the band, appeared on network television and moved to California.
A devoted Catholic, she married in 1952 and became a mother of five. In the past two years, she lived at Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation in Little Rock and was selected as the nursing home's "prom queen."
Jansen wasn't among the first to be diagnosed with covid-19 in an outbreak at the facility that infected dozens, but she tested positive after she began running a fever. "She was 94, and I just didn't think her body was strong enough to fight it," her daughter, Anne Broadwater, said.
Sinkey founded and owned Sinkey Trucking, a four-truck asphalt-hauling company that worked on contracts, his son said.
Outside the 40-year-old company, Sinkey was known to be a quiet person who avoided crowds, enjoyed watching Western movies, working on his trucks and fixing up his North Little Rock home.
Survivors include a wife, three sons, one daughter and grandchildren.
A worker in the Little Rock Police Department's 911 Communications Center for 25 years, Jett was the first known nursing-home resident to die of covid-19 in Arkansas.
Born in Arkadelphia in 1936, Jett was a longtime resident of Little Rock who once owned a downtown restaurant called P.D.Q. She raised her three children as a single mother, according to her obituary, and had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jett lived at Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for four years to help treat Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Cotton was the youngest person to die of the coronavirus in the state in March. She was a sales administrator for Carlton-Bates Co. in Little Rock.
An internal company email obtained by the Democrat-Gazette, said at least four of Cotton's co-workers had since tested positive for the virus, and two others were awaiting results.
What Cotton originally thought was a cold gradually worsened until she was admitted to Saline Memorial Hospital, where she died, her sister LaTia Wright told the newspaper.
Wright -- a respiratory therapist who has been treating covid-19 patients -- spoke out about Cotton's death to stress the danger of the virus.
An announcement of Cotton's memorial service said the gathering would be limited to immediate family members and livestreamed for others, following federal "recommendations and guidelines regarding funeral services at this time."