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story.lead_photo.caption Covid-19 deaths by county

A Marine veteran who survived two tours in Vietnam. A Big Band singer from the 1940s.

An offshore oilman. A dominant Razorback defensive lineman during the Lou Holtz days.

They are among 90 Arkansans who have lost their lives to the covid-19 epidemic since the first death in the state was recorded March 24, according to state Department of Health records as of Saturday.

Former Southwestern Bell employee Patricia Jacuzzi, 72, started showing symptoms in early March after a trip to the Bahamas with her sister and before the first case was discovered in Arkansas.

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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."

This Arkansas Democrat-Gazette occasional series, "Lives Remembered," tells stories of Arkansans who have died from the global pandemic. The 30 featured below lost their lives in April.

Because some survivors don't want their loved ones' names linked publicly to the virus, the newspaper publishes names and photographs for this series with family members' permission.

When survivors decline or can't be contacted, those who died are identified by age and city.

Frances Jansen, 94, Little Rock, died April 1. 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.

Frances Bovick Jansen

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.

A 25-year-old Conway man, April 2. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, he was described in his obituary as a "passionate personality" with a "zeal for people."

He is the youngest person in the state so far to die from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Jacuzzi, 72, Little Rock, April 3.

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.

Patricia Jacuzzi

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.

An 89-year-old Portia man, April 3. The retired truck driver was a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War and was recently a resident of Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab, his obituary said.

He tested positive for covid-19 days before he died, but seemed fine until he suddenly experienced respiratory distress and died within minutes.

A 70-year-old Little Rock woman, April 3. A registered dietitian, she co-owned a dog boarding kennel.

A 67-year-old Pine Bluff woman, April 4. The mother of two, she was born into a large family of seven sisters and two brothers. She was affectionately known as "Big Aunty," according to her obituary.

She died in a hospital of cardio-respiratory arrest and covid-19.

A 76-year-old Higden man, April 4. A U.S. Marine veteran with 27 years of military service, he served two tours of combat in Vietnam.

His obituary said the husband and father of four loved "family, fishing, boats, motorcycles, scuba diving, fast cars, and the Arkansas Razorbacks."

Mary Blount, 107, Little Rock, April 5. The oldest Arkansan so far to die of covid-19, Blount worked in a finance office at the Arkansas Capitol and helped run a dry-cleaning business.

Mary Charlotte Blount (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

A resident of Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, she was among several dozen residents there who tested positive for the virus.

Rodney Cottrell, 84, Little Rock and The Woodlands, Texas, April 6.

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.

Rodney Cottrell

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.

He had a son, two daughters and twin granddaughters. Among his favorite pastimes was playing with his dog, Champ.

Shelley York, 69, North Little Rock, April 6. 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.

Shelley York

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.

A 79-year-old Hope woman, April 8. A licensed practical nurse, her career spanned 60 years, according to her obituary. She enjoyed teaching the Bible, studying Spanish, cooking, sewing and fishing.

She was hospitalized April 2 because of shortness of breath and fever, according to a coroner's report.

Julia Christian, 82, Pine Bluff, April 9. 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.

Richard "Doughnut" Richardson, 60, of Little Rock, April 9. 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.

Richard “Doughnut” Richardson

"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.

An 87-year-old White Hall woman, April 10. A resident of The Waters of White Hall Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, she was retired from Woolworth and USA Drug. She died at a hospital from cardio-respiratory arrest and covid-19, according to a coroner's report.

The White Hall nursing home is among five in Arkansas where more than 25 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

A 79-year-old Clinton man, April 10. A Navy veteran, he retired after 35 years with Southwestern Bell Telephone as an engineer, according to his obituary. The coroner's report said only that he died of covid-19.

A 62-year-old Monticello woman, April 10. She had been disabled for about 10 years with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, her husband James said in an interview after her death. She was hospitalized March 23 suffering from shortness of breath and later tested positive for covid-19.

A 64-year-old Mabelvale man, April 12. A Henderson State University graduate, he worked in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years, enjoyed fishing and spending time with family.

The day before he died, he was hospitalized for becoming nonresponsive and went into cardiac arrest. He tested positive for covid-19.

A 76-year-old Mayflower man, died April 12. An Army veteran and retired bricklayer, he was discharged from a Veterans Health Administration unit on April 8, according to a coroner's report, and was in hospice care at home after being diagnosed with a lung disease, according to his wife, Dana.

He was hospitalized again the day before he died, with shortness of breath and fever, and tested positive for the coronavirus.

A 95-year-old Little Rock woman, April 13. She taught in Little Rock and North Little Rock schools and worked for a hospital recruiting student nurses.

A resident of Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, she was the fourth resident of the facility to die of covid-19.

Harry Drabelle, 78, of Maumelle, April 14. 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. At least 30 residents at The Lakes of Maumelle have been sickened by covid-19.

Mae Lewellan, 86, North Little Rock, April 17. 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.

Beverly Reep, 63, Warren, April 18. 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.

Beverly Holloway Reep

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.

An 85-year-old White Hall man, April 20. Founder of Lawson Welding Supply, he set up a church's 12-step program and worked as a counselor, according to his wife.

He moved into The Waters of White Hall nursing home last fall to receive wound-care treatment after surgery and later moved into long-term care. He died of respiratory distress caused by covid-19, according to a coroner's report. He's among 10 former residents of The Waters of White Hall who died after contracting the virus.

A 91-year-old Mayflower woman, April 23. The Stuttgart native died at The Lakes at Maumelle nursing home where she was under hospice care after a stroke in January, according to a Pulaski County coroner's report. She tested positive for covid-19 on April 20, and her health "declined rapidly."

A 79-year-old North Little Rock man, April 23. The Fayetteville native had worked in investment banking, according to his obituary. He was admitted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on April 9 and tested positive for covid-19.

A 78-year-old White Hall man, April 24. The Tucker native was a resident at The Waters of White Hall nursing home, according to a coroner's report. He died of cardio-respiratory arrest, with covid-19 as a contributing factor.

Anita Gullett, 89, of Little Rock, April 26. 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.

Kathryn Council, 87, Pine Bluff, April 26. 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.

Doris Bitner, 86, of Maumelle, died April 27. 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.

A 93-year-old Taylor woman, April 29. The woman and her husband lived and worked in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. She loved to "cook and tried to feed anyone that walked in her door," according to her obituary.

A resident of Summit Health & Rehab Center, she tested positive for covid-19 on April 24.

Information for this article was contributed by Lisa Hammersly and John Moritz of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

SundayMonday on 05/10/2020

CORRECTION: This article remembers 30 people who were among those in Arkansas to lose their lives to the covid-19 pandemic last month. An earlier version of the headline accompanying the article was unclear.


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