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Those We've Lost: NHPR's COVID-19 Remembrance Project

Credit: Reina Adriano

To mark the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in New Hampshire, NHPR is gathering stories and photos of people who passed away due to the pandemic to put in perspective the losses we've faced over the past year.

We asked our audience to share memories of loved ones who died from the virus, and to tell us what role they played in their community, how they impacted those around them, and what made them special.

If you've lost a loved one or someone close to you to COVID-19, click here to share their story.

Rogelio Adriano, 79 - Manila, Phillippines 

Remembered by: Reina Adriano

My grandfather passed away last July 2020, at the height of the pandemic in Manila. We had no funeral service for him. No priest, no burial, either. Lolo had to be cremated. I had already moved to New Hampshire by then — six continents, eight time zones and several languages away. There was no going back.

Lolo Roger, as we fondly call him, was a jeepney driver, the most common mode of transportation in the Philippines. My grandfather never set foot in New Hampshire or in the East Coast. In fact, he never came to the States. All his life he made a living just driving his jeepney, collecting fares from passengers and shouting out names of stopovers as he passed them by.

I am one of his numerous grandchildren, the first one who migrated to another country, the first one who traveled elsewhere and decided this is where I wanted to stay. I think about New Hampshire as some sort of stopover for me, a place where I could end a journey and begin another one. I imagine my grandfather once again in his jeepney, just driving, driving, driving, until he finally reaches his stopover and hops down, his life coming to an end, and at the same time: a new journey waiting for him to start.

Elizabeth Shook, 93 – Keene, N.H.

Remembered by: Woody Shook

My mother grew up in New York State before moving to Keene, New Hampshire. Anywhere she lived, she was always involved with her community. She volunteered with the Red Cross, served as a deacon and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church and was active in garden clubs. She was also an avid needlepoint creator and made the family new Christmas ornaments every year dating back to the early ‘70s – that’s a lot of ornaments. When she and my father moved from NY to Keene, they couldn’t bring their prized Lionel train set, so they donated it to the Rochester Toy museum.

When she was a kid, her father would give her sweet pea flowers every year on her birthday, and when I learned this, I decided to continue the tradition. She knew the flowers immediately from their fragrance, and they brought back childhood memories for her.

My parents were married for 70 years before my father passed away, a few months before my mother. Throughout their marriage, my father, a former Army cadet, teased her about an incident at an Army-Navy game where he asked her to photograph the cadets walking in but she took pictures of the midshipmen instead - she thought they looked better than the guys all dressed in gray.

She passed away in an assisted living facility on November 24, just before Thanksgiving.

Wanda M. Hough, 70 - Meredith, N.H.

Remembered by: Linda Hough

My mother was the nicest person I ever knew. She loved horror movies, antiques and her beloved dog, Lillie. Her and her husband, Paul, opened Waukewan Antiques in 1995, where she worked until she was diagnosed with breast and brain cancer. She battled the cancer for 15 years and beat it.

In her final years, she stayed at St. Francis Nursing Home with dementia caused by the previous bout with cancer and its treatment. We last spoke with her at Christmas, where she was very happy and looking forward to getting her vaccine and an upcoming visit with us.

She passed away on January 6, 2021, the day she was due to get the vaccine. She loved her family and all of the nurses who treated her so well at St. Francis.

Rachel Eskie, 41 - Worcester, Mass.

Remembered by: Eleanor Luna

My sister was 41 years old when COVID came into the long-term care facility she was in for the past 16 years. It took her three months to pass, and she fought it every step of the way. She has always been a fighter and had a very strong spirit. We were convinced she would recover, but ultimately she lost her life to the virus in June 2020.

It was hard for our tiny family because we weren't allowed to go into the hospital and the staff was so busy; we kept having to call them to find out anything about what was going on with my sister. Back then, there were still a lot of unknowns. All we wanted was for her to be comfortable and not in pain as she lay dying. Not being able to see her or talk to her was the worst part, and since she was non-verbal, she couldn't tell anyone if she was suffering. We still haven't been able to have a funeral service.

Joanne Dugas, 92 - Concord, N.H.

Remembered by: Jayne Glennon

Joanne was my mother. She raised three children, and had six grandchildren and six great grandchildren at the time of her death. Her entire life was lived in New Hampshire surrounded by family and friends, caring for family and friends.

She worked as a homemaker and later at Mt. Saint Mary Library and as a cashier in the Bedford McKelvey School lunchroom. She volunteered at Concord Contemporary Club, Manchester Red Cross, and Bear Brook State Park. She wove together a life of caring for others, hard work, and good fun.

She was living in a nursing home in Manchester when she caught COVID-19. I miss her.

Granville “Lou” Metcalf, 87 - Baltimore, Md.

Remembered by: Brian Metcalf

Dad, you raised four kids. My best memory was learning how to fish and crab from you. Many summer days I was as red as a ripe Maryland tomato. You taught me patience, honor, trustworthiness and some great four-letter words. I'll miss your love and humor.

Madaleine Whitehouse, 96 - Madbury, N.H.

Remembered by: Jan Whitten

My Mom was an RN. She graduated from Mount Auburn School of Nursing in Cambridge, Mass. She worked at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in pediatrics when my brothers and I were children. Later on she worked with my dad in his business, Whitehouse Opticians. She was the family matriarch. She served family dinners on Sundays up until she went to live in an assisted living facility.

She loved her children, grandchildren and great grands, and she was always the one to plan a party or celebration. She always sent cookies and letters when I was away at college.  She was always serving someone, and she baked a lot of cookies and other goodies for the Dover Friendly Kitchen and church activities. She was a dancer as a child and she took lessons later in life for exercise. She even danced at her 90th birthday party to the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame:” She loved the Red Sox.

When she learned that I wanted to become a nurse, she was instrumental in guiding me in 1969 to attend an established bachelor's degree program as she knew it was the wave of the future. I am grateful for her loving guidance which eventually led me to a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Mom died on Feb. 2 at the age of 96, two months shy of her 97th birthday. She lived a good long life. Even so, it was too soon and so sad that COVID 19 took her from this world.

Share your story with NHPR's COVID-19 Remembrance Project

Zoey Knox is NHPR's newsroom engagement producer. She has spent most of her radio years at college radio stations in Madison, WI (WSUM) and Seattle, WA (KXSU).
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