Coronavirus deaths in Illinois by county; COVID-19 victims of all ages

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Saturday, June 20, 2020
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CHICAGO (WLS) -- The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus rises each day, both in the state of Illinois and across the country.

More than 6,500 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and more than 119,000 have died in the United States.

Victims have ranged in age from 1-year-old to over 100, and people from all walks of life have been impacted.

Here are some of the Illinois victims of COVID-19.

Leroy Hearon - Chicago

A retired Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who died after contracting COVID-19 is being remembered for his love of tango dancing.

Leroy Hearon lost his battle with coronavirus after spending 45 days in a hospital. He died June 11 at age 63.

His friend, Phoebe Grant, said she met Hearon dancing tango, which was just one of the many things she says he did with dedication.

"Whatever he did, he did with so much passion," Grant said.

Hearon was a member of the Chicago Fire Department for more than 30 years.

He would frequently practice his dance moves in the firehouse, and attended events to showcase his skills. Hearon also traveled all over the world to participate in competitions.

Hearon is survived by a sister.

Gloria Cervantes-Zamudio - Carpentersville

Gloria Cervantes-Zamudio, mother of Sgt. Simon Zamudio, died three days after her son from COVID-19 on May 25.

Sgt. Zamudio took her to the hospital on May 9. Her family was worried, but they also knew she had a fighting spirit.

Their family was once skeptical of the virus, but after losing their loved ones said, "It showed me in the worst way how real it is. Don't think COVID is a lie because it's very real."

Army Sergeant Simon Zamudio - Carpentersville

Army Sergeant Simon Zamudio, 34, of Carpentersville died from COVID-19 on May 22. He is the third member of the US military to die from the virus.

His family also said they're also mourning the death of his 70-year old mother, who passed away just three days later from complications related to COVID-19.

Zamudio is survived by his wife, daughter and four siblings.

Angel Butron - Chicago

Angel Butron died May 24 from the coronavirus, and his family is remember his "tremendously large heart."

Butron immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1969. He began working at the Tootsie Roll factory on Chicago's Southwest Side shortly after that, a little more than 50 years ago.

Butron's family said no words can express how monumental the loss of their patriarch is. Butron was 75.

Harilal and Padmaben Thakkar - Naperville

The virus claimed the lives of a Naperville couple married for 70 years.

Harilal and Padmaben Thakkar married in 1949 and immigrated to Chicago in the 1980s. They died just two days apart.

Their granddaughter, Julie Thakkar, said the family has found comfort in that they passed together.

Hecky Powell - Evanston

Hecky Powell, the beloved founder of Hecky's Barbecue in Evanston, died of complications from the coronavirus May 22.

Powell opened his namesake restaurant nearly 40 years ago.

The Powell family is heartbroken, and said in a statement posted on the restaurant's website, "The outside world knew Hecky as a successful business owner and philanthropist in the Evanston community. However, we knew him best as the most generous and greatest father, husband, brother, son, cousin, friend and mentor anyone could ask for."

Riad Ismat - Evanston

Riad Ismat survived war in Syria and rebuilt life in a foreign world only to be overcome by a global pandemic.

The scholar found safety in Evanston, teaching students at Northwestern and living quietly in political asylum with his family.

After a week of intensive care, COVID-19 quietly claimed the cultural icon's life in mid-May.

Juanita and Luis Melicio - Galewood

Juanita and Luis Melicio both died from COVID-19. just hours apart. They were married for 54 years.

Their children believe Juanita caught the virus while she was taking care of her sister, who had COVID-19, and then gave it to her husband.

Their children described them as "genuine parents," family-oriented and with strong Christian values they instilled in their children.

Jesus 'Don Chuy' Gutierrez - Chicago

Beloved Little Village grocer Jesus Gutierrez, known affectionately as "Don Chuy," died from COVID-19 in mid-May at the age of 79.

Gutierrez and his wife operated Varela's Groceries for decades, and many in Little Village came to him for advice and help navigating America.

"They would say, 'Don Chuy, my name is so-and-so and I was told to come and talk to you about possibly...' you know, someone needing help, looking for a job, a place," his son recalled. "He was a father figure to many kids. They would walk into the store and they were happy to show him their report cards. He knew everyone by name."

Gutierrez is survived by a large family including his wife, four children, grandchildren and now three great-grandchildren.

Ernesto Guzman - Chicago

Ernesto Guzman, 12, died of COVID-19 complications on May 14, making him Cook County's youngest victim of the pandemic so far. He spent the last days of his very young life struggling in a bed at Christ Hospital.

Neighbors remember Ernesto struggling to get from his family's front porch to the school bus.

"He had a walker with him, but I could tell his balance was not fully there," said Rolando Perez, a neighbor. "His strength, I believe, was limited."

According to a GoFundMe page posted by his uncle, Ernesto suffered from a rare disease that damages nerves and weakens muscles. But it was complications of COVID-19 that killed him at just 12 years old.

Antoine Jones- Chicago

A 51-year-old correctional officer in Cook County has died of apparent COVID-19 complications, the sheriff's office announced Sunday.

Antoine Jones died Sunday after being diagnosed with coronavirus in late March, the Cook County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"His passing is a shock to us all," a spokesperson for the sheriff's office said.

The South Side resident has been with the sheriff's office since 2002.

The office called correctional staff, like Jones, the "unseen heroes in the fight against this global pandemic, bravely working to keep their fellow colleagues, detainees, and the public safe from COVID-19."

He leaves behind a wife and five adult children.

Unique Clay - Chicago

For the first time in Chicago, a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier has died of COVID-19.

Unique Clay, 31, died May 5 after giving birth a week earlier.

"I'm devastated. I'm hurt," said Alan Brown, Clay's father. "She impacted a lot of people's lives with her personality,"

According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, Clay worked for the U.S. Postal Service for two years and is the first active letter carrier in the city to die of COVID-19. The union said more than 30 letter carriers in Chicago have tested positive for coronavirus.

Relatives said they don't know how the mother of three contracted the virus, but they said she fell ill and died at her Englewood home on the city's South Side. Some question why Clay, who had asthma, was discharged from the hospital on May 3 with her newborn. At the time, she supposedly wasn't feeling well after she tested positive at the hospital for COVID-19 when she went into labor.

Mohamed Rahman - Skokie

Mohamed Rahman was a USDA worker who visited several plants each day, his family said.

According to his nephew, the Skokie man felt pressure to keep working and was not given the protective gear he needed.

Deshaun Taylor - Chicago

Deshaun Taylor, 23, was one of nine siblings and the devoted father of a 4-year-old girl, who died from COVID-19 after being sent home from the hospital twice.

Taylor's sister found him unresponsive at home after the second time. He had been diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19, and had asthma and diabetes.

"He was very pure, loving, just a big guy like a big teddy bear. And he loved everyone," his sister Ebony said. "It's just a tremendous loss in our family right now."

Russell Ditusa - Chicago

Russell Ditusa was a World War II veteran, AAA baseball player and long-time member of the Chicago Police Department. He died from COVID-19 at age 97 in the first week of May.

His wife Rosalie is in the hospital, but not showing any symptoms. They celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary in April.

His son and other family members followed in his father's footsteps, becoming Chicago police officers as well. They said he served as an example for the entire family.

Manuel Vasquez - Chicago

Manuel Vasquez danced his way into his 81st year, happy as he'd ever been. He'd called Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square home for the last 16 years.

More than 150 people at Woodbridge have tested positive for COVID-19. Vasquez's daughter sai they were not immediately told of his positive test or the outbreak. He died late the night of May 5.

"This was so unexpected," said his daughter Mildred Martinez. "I'm very grateful he got to do his last dance with my sister."

Richard O'Brien- Chicago

A Cook County deputy who battled COVID-19 for weeks has died, the sheriff's office said.

Cook County Deputy Richard O'Brien died Sunday as a result of coronavirus complications. He was 53.

The 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office is being remembered by his peers as "a highly motivated and dedicated professional," the sheriff's office said.

O'Brien was already battling heart problems and stage one leukemia when he came down with COVID-19.

O'Brien leaves behind a wife, Cindi, and three children.

Nyla Moore - Chicago

A Chicago family is mourning the death of a young woman who died from COVID-19.

Nyla Moore, 22, had an asthma attack on April 10, then later tested positive for the virus. She was on a ventilator for more than three weeks, her family said.

Moore died Friday, May 1st.

Moore's mother said her daughter wanted to be a teacher.

"She just worked really well in high school with special needs kids. It was a program at her high school, and she worked with that the whole four years," Moore's mother said.

Moore also leaves behind a 2-year-old son.

Juan Martinez Sr. - Chicago

A surgery technician at UIC Hospital died just days before he was set to retire.

Martinez, 60, spend 34 years working in healthcare. He was a proud Army veteran and pastor.

"He encouraged us not to worry, that God is in control and that everything else could happen, but the most important thing was our relationship with Christ," said Angela Martinez, his daughter.

Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc- Chicago

A longtime UIC nurse has died after contracting COVID-19.

Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc, 53, passed away Thursday after contracting COVID-19 earlier this month, according to her coworkers.

Pacubas-Le Blanc worked as a nurse in the neuroscience ICU at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.

She had been a nurse for more than 30 years.

Pacubas-Le Blanc is the first nurse at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Systems to succumb to the virus.

"She gave a mother's touch to everyone, we can't believe this happened," said nurse and coworker Eileen Fajardo-Furlin.

Pacubas-Le Blanc is survived by her husband and two sons.

Joseph Cappello - Melrose Park

Melrose Park police officer Joseph Cappello, 55, died April 24 from coronavirus, the police department said.

Cappello had law enforcement in his blood. His father was a Chicago police officer, and his son Joe is currently a Chicago police officer.

Friends said he was hospitalized for a time due to COVID-19 but died later, after being released.

Luis Tapiru, II - Chicago

Luis Tapiru, II, 20, died on April 14 in Chicago from COVID-19 while both his parents were hospitalized battling the virus.

His brother said Luis was told to stay home and self-isolate because both his parents were sick with COVID-19. He was found dead in his home after he didn't pick up his brother's calls.

Luis's mother also died from COVID-19. His father was recently taken off a ventilator and transferred to a rehab facility to continue his recover. His brother Justin is not sick.

Josephine Tapiru - Chicago

Josephine Tapiru, 56, died April 18 after being hospitalized, along with her husband, due to COVID-19.

She died four days after her 20-year-old son Luis II died in their home from the virus.

Her other son Justin believes his mother caught COVID-19 at her job at a nursing home. He said she was the first go get sick on March 31.

The Filipino family moved to Chicago from Canada. The community remembers them as hardworking and loving.

Paulette Thomas Mickel - Chicago

A nurse at a Chicago hospital has died from COVID-19.

Paulette Thomas Mickel worked for nearly 17 years at Amita Health St. Mary.

Mickel sang in the choir at St. Paul CME Church in Bronzeville, according to her daughter.

She leaves behind two daughters and two grandchildren.

Michelle Abernathy - Chicago

Michelle Abernathy, 52, is one of three COVID-19 deaths at the Elisabeth Ludeman Center in Park Forest.

She lost her battle with the virus just a few weeks ago, and her loved ones remember her as dedicated to her work and the people she cared for.

"You know, my best friend is gone," said her boyfriend Torrence Jones.

Abernathy was a bright light to all who loved her.

"I feel lost without her," Jones said. "There's a big empty spot in my heart."

Sheila Rivera - Cook County

Sheila Rivera, 47, is possibly the first correctional officer at the jail to die of the disease, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

Rivera died Sunday evening at Resurrection Medical Center, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

According to her Facebook profile, Rivera had worked as a corrections officer since 2012.

Sandra Green - Joliet

Lakendel Evans told The (Joliet) Herald-News that her mother, a 57-year-old certified nursing assistant, died at a Joliet hospital after spending 24 days on a ventilator.

Green is the second staffer at Symphony of Joliet to die from COVID-19.

Symphony of Joliet has been a focus amid the growing number of cases at the state's long-term care facilities. Last week the Northern Illinois nursing home announced 22 residents and one staffer had died from the virus, prompted the city's mayor to call for a state investigation of the facility.

Chavon Smith - Matteson

One of the youngest COVID-19 victims in the Chicago area was a 34-year-old entrepreneur and mentor who lived in Matteson with her two younger sons.

Chavon Smith died April 17.

Smith was battling lupus, but it was manageable and she was careful, her daughter Zamariah Smith said.

Zamariah Smith moved from Kentucky to Chicago in a hurry at the end of March, when her mother fell ill with the virus.

In the span of two weeks, Chavon Smith went from healthy to barely holding on in a medically induced coma, her daughter said.

She said she was able to text with her mother just before she was placed in the coma.

The 19-year-old will now take guardianship of her brothers, and raise them remembering their mother.

John Richardson - Oak Park

John Richardson, 84, died Easter Sunday after contracting coronavirus.

His daughter said he had been stable in the hospital for several days before he stopped eating Wednesday. By Saturday, his breathing declined and he passed on Sunday," she said.

"It came out of nowhere," his daughter Joan Bartlett said about how quickly COVID-19 can go from manageable to deadly.

Clarence Dorsey - Chicago

Clarence Dorsey, 93, died days after he suddenly began having trouble breathing.

"COVID is serious. And COVID will kill you. Quickly," said his son, Sylvester Dorsey. "It took six days to take my father out of here. After 93 years, he had only been hospitalized once in his life."

Dorsey said he hopes others will learn from his loss and take the virus seriously.

"You might think it's not happening because it hasn't happened to your family. But when it comes, it's gonna to come so quick," he said.

Darrell Jones - Chicago

Darrell Jones, 52, worked as a CTA mechanic at the 74th Street bus depot. He died from COVID-19 in mid-April.

Co-workers described him as friendly and easygoing.

Kim Henderson - Chicago

Kim Henderson was a CTA bus driver who died over the weekend, days before her 42nd birthday. She is survived by a husband and young daughter.

"She was an amazing woman, outgoing, very warm," said her husband Larry. "A loving woman and mother. The amount of love and emotion that's pouring in, this woman, she touched so many lives."

Doris Van- Elmhurst

Doris Van contracted COVID-19 at the Lexington Health Care Center, and died April 1 at the age of 72, according to her family.

"She was a five-star mother to us, to my brother and I," said Sharee Becton, Van's daughter.

Diane Love Roberts- Chicago

Diane Love Roberts contracted COVID-19 while living at Winston Manor nursing home in Bucktown. She died April 12 at the age of 78, her family said.

"I'm her only child, she had six grandchildren that adored her, she was a beautiful vibrant friendly woman," her daughter, Stephanie Roberts said.

Norma Bratschi Hoza - Wilmette

Norma Bratschi Hoza is the oldest known victim of COVID-19 so far. Born in Chicago in 1919, at the height of the Spanish flu epidemic, she died from the coronavirus on April 2, just days after being hospitalized, at the age of 101.

Hoza's mother came down with influenza while pregnant, but survived. Her family later moved to Wilmette, where her father started their family business, Bratschi Plumbing. She worked as a bookkeeper there, and remained a fixture over the years as she married her high school sweetheart and raised six sons.

"She had a good life and we're celebrating her life, and not mourning it," her son Phil Hoza said

Darren Edwards - Chicago

Edwards, 57, is being remembered as a loving and hardworking father known for his humor and loud voice. His family said they have received an outpouring of support because, they say, he was the type of guy who made friends with everyone. He tested positive for COVID-19 in late March. From there his health declined, and he was hospitalized before passing away April 8.

Russell Modjeski - Chicago

Modjeski, 60, quietly worked behind the scenes helping those most in need in Chicago. The Northwest Side man worked as a 911 dispatcher for two decades.

His wife Kelly said he loved to cook and cook for others, volunteering to make meals for fundraisers to support those on the frontlines.

The loving father of two died late last month. After his death, his family learned he tested positive for COVID-19.

Tony Greer - Chicago native

A camera operator for ABC's "Good Morning America" is being remembered by his family and friends on Chicago's South Side.

Tony Greer, 62, lost his battle to COVID-19 in New York City on April 7.

The Leo High School alum and first college graduate in his family loved traveling with his long-time girlfriend Robin and dedicated his life to his other passions: film and music.

Mario Araujo - Chicago

"CFD has lost one of our own to complications of COVID-19. Firefighter Mario Araujo, a proud member of CFD Truck Company 25 passed away this evening," Chicago Fire Depart Department spokesman Larry Langford tweeted.

"He joined CFD in October of 2003 and spend most of his career at Truck 25," Langford said. "May God bless his soul."

Diane Brooks - Joliet

Diane Brooks, a former Cook County Clerk employee who had been a resident of Symphony of Joliet nursing home, died due to complications from COVID-19 on April 6.

The 65-year-old had been a resident of Symphony of Joliet nursing home for the past two years.

"She was just my big sister, and she loved me and I loved her," said Dorisell Brooks, Diane's sister. "I miss her smile. I miss her keeping me up at night on the phone."

Adrew Betts - Chicago

Adrew Betts was a well-known, well-loved fixture of the Austin community on Chicago's West Side. He died April 5 from COVID-19. He was 71.

Betts served as chairman of the board of the Greater St. John Bible Church.

Until he was hospitalized, Betts had worked alongside Reverend Ira Acree, serving on the deacon board for 25 years. He remained a supporter of the church's activism.

"My dad was my hero, of course, and just a great man," said his daughter Renee Ruffin.

"He was a stellar example of a male figure with an impeccable character and integrity," Acree said.

Vera Jackson - Chicago

The family of a Chicago woman said she died April 6 after contracting COVID-19.

Vera Jackson was a member of the Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church community on the South Side.

Her family said she is remembered as the "anchor" of the family.

Jackson was in self-quarantine after her younger sister Marilyn contracted COVID-19, her family said.

She did not go to the hospital, her family said.

The family said they are upset they won't be able to hold a proper funeral and it's been hard to stomach the deaths so close together.

Marilyn Williams - Chicago

A Chicago woman has passed away after contracting COVID-19, according to her family.

Marilyn Williams was a member of the Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church community on the South Side.

Her family said she was on a ventilator in the hospital for about six days before she died on April 1.

"I know that she was alone and my family couldn't do anything," Marilyn's niece Shanti Bobo said. "With all that personality she had she would've never wanted anybody to be alone, so for her to go through that alone was just a lot for the family."

The family said Marilyn's older sister Vera Jackson got sick around the same time.

Leslie Gillie - Chicago

A Chicago woman who died after contracting COVID-19 is being remembered by her family and friends as an avid bowler.

Leslie Gillie, 46, was part of several bowling leagues, and she even received an award from the United States Bowling Congress last year.

Gillie loved to coach children in the sport.

She leaves behind her husband and a son.

Lucius Hall - Chicago

The founder and pastor of First Church of Love and Faith on Chicago's South Side has died after contracting COVID-19.

Archbishop Lucius Hall suffered from some underlying health conditions, including heart failure, his associate pastor said Thursday. He was 87.

Hall had served in the military and worked for the federal government before organizing the First Church of Love and Faith in 1980. He was ordained a minister that same year.

The pastor's most recent service was held on March 15.

Mansour Tadros - Tinley Park

A key figure in the Chicago area's Arab-American community lost his battle with COVID-19 on March 28, his family said.

Mansour Tadros started his own newspaper "The Future News" to help transform the image of the Arab-American community and to help connect and uplift people.

The 70-year-old father of three died on the way to the hospital.

"When they had carted him away, I said, 'Allah maak, Dad.' And I looked at him in the eyes and said 'Allah maak,' which is 'God be with you,'" Fadi Tadros said. "Those were the last words."

Dr. Peter Sakas - Niles

Dr. Sakas died March 30 after spending less than a week in a hospital, his friend said.

"Just devastating. Devastating for us, I'm sure for his family, and for the veterinarian community, for the rescue community, it is such a huge, huge loss," said John Garrido, friend of Dr. Sakas. "He was just so gifted."

His son said in a social media post that his father took great pride in being a voice for patients who could not speak.

Asberry Stoudemire - Chicago

Asberry Stoudemire, 54, died from COVID-19 on March 29.

His daughter tells us he was in the hospital for just over a week and had underlying medical conditions.

Asberry was a musician, and was touring down south when his trip was cut short because of the virus.

"Wonderful on the organ, wonderful on the piano. He was the type, he'd hear a note and then he just kept going," said his daughter Miranda Stoudemire.

Pastor Keith Burgess - Chicago

Pastor Keith Burgess, 47, of Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was a force in the South Side community and his family.

"This man literally did everything he could do to embody what it means to be like Jesus," said his nephew Brandon Clark.

Burgess began feeling flu-like symptoms in mid-March which eventually became so bad he was hospitalized. He was placed in a medically-induced coma, from which he never emerged.

Mary Ann Humphrey - Orland Park

Orland Park assistant living facility resident Mary Ann Humphrey, 85, passed away on March 29, five days after she was hospitalized for COVID-19.

Her son Bill Humphrey said family members had to remain inside in their cars at his mother's funeral.

Bill said he never thought he'd know someone with the virus, and now COVID-19 has become very personal to him. He said he hopes people will heed stay at home orders and social distancing to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Angel Escamilla - Naperville

Pastor Angel Escamilla, 67, devoted his life to Calvary Church in Naperville for more than a decade.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24 after coming down with pneumonia and being hospitalized. He died March 29.

His grieving family has asked that everyone stay home and stay safe to prevent the spread of the virus that killed Escamilla.

Yousef Allan Quran - Crete

Yousef Allan Quran, 67, was originally from Palestine. The retired businessman was the eldest of 11 children and a beloved father of four and grandfather of three. He self-quarantined after finding out a friend he had contact with tested positive for COVID-19.

When he developed serious symptoms, his wife took him to a hospital in northwest Indiana. He was officially diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on Friday, March 27, and died on Sunday, March 29.

Patricia Frieson - Chicago

Patricia Frieson, 61, was the first known death from COVID-19 in Illinois. She had asthma and her family said she had been having a difficult time breathing in early March. She died on March 16.

Wanda Frieson Bailey - Crete

Wanda Frieson Bailey, 63, was Patricia Frieson's sister and also died from COVID-19 at a hospital in Olympia Fields. She died on March 25.