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The Iowans we've lost to COVID-19

More than 1,900 Iowans have died from the coronavirus. Each of them was a friend, a neighbor, a family member.

They were mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, colleagues and retirees, volunteers and world travelers, gardeners and pie-bakers.

They left a mark on their families and their communities. They loved and were loved.

And they deserve to be remembered as more than a number.

In an unprecedented partnership, nine Iowa newsrooms across two companies have come together to lift up these Iowans’ stories. We’re committed to telling as many of these stories as we can.

Read more than 300 names and join us in mourning the Iowans lost. 

Print section: View the pages for Iowa Mourns

Sanford Naiditch

1923-2020 | A patriot and good family man who saw life as an adventure

Ira Naiditch holds a photo of his father, Sanford Naiditch, at his home in Ankeny. Sanford Naiditch served in the Army's 517th field artillery in World War II.
Ira Naiditch holds a photo of his father, Sanford Naiditch, at his home in Ankeny. Sanford Naiditch served in the Army's 517th field artillery in World War II.
Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

Sanford Naiditch always wore his World War II veteran hat — except for when he saw another soldier.

Then, he would calmly remove his cap, approach the GI and say, "Thank you for your service." Taking his hat off was important to Sanford, who worked Army field artillery in Japan and the Philippines, because he wanted to offer his gratitude without making the receiver feel obligated to thank him in return.

Years ago, when asked how he wanted to be remembered, Sanford answered: "Patriotism and being a good family man."

Indeed, no two traits better encapsulate the 97 years Sanford lived.

Born in 1923 in Chicago, Sanford spent most of his life in Minneapolis, where he and his wife, Sylvia, raised their two children, Ira and Linda.

Sanford and Sylvia filled Ira and Linda's childhoods with everything from horseback riding to skiing to rollerblading. So long as they were spending time together as a family, the activity didn't matter.

"Other than my wife, he was my best friend," said Ira.

Click here to read Sanford's story. 

Ed Davis

1925-2020 | A WWII Marine who advocated for his fellow veterans in Iowa

From left, Adrianne, Becky and Zach Greenwald hold a photo of Becky’s father, Ed Davis, a Marine veteran who fought in the Pacific theater in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart.
From left, Adrianne, Becky and Zach Greenwald hold a photo of Becky’s father, Ed Davis, a Marine veteran who fought in the Pacific theater in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Edison “Ed” Davis never went pheasant hunting with the other fathers and sons in State Center, a rural burgh on the outskirts of Marshall County.

A smooth talker who could befriend just about anybody, Ed liked to be the life of the party, his daughter Becky Greenwald said. So, as a child, she couldn’t understand why her dad would rather tinker in the garage or read his U.S. News & World Report instead of yuk it up with the guys. And she’d always heard her father was a great shot to boot.

“I’ve done enough killing in my life,” her dad told her when she finally asked.

Ed didn’t have to fill in the pregnant pause lingering between them. Becky knew he was talking about the months he spent on Okinawa’s hills as a private first-class rifleman in World War II fighting Japanese soldiers hiding in caves and tunnels as the Marines island-hopped to an American victory.

Click here to read Ed's story.

Gerald 'Jerry' Schleis

1942-2020 | A carpet layer with a legendary sense of adventure 

Gerald "Jerry" Schleis, seen here in this photo taken around 2008, is remembered for his kindness, his adventures and his many skills. Schleis died Sept. 13 of COVID-19.
Gerald "Jerry" Schleis, seen here in this photo taken around 2008, is remembered for his kindness, his adventures and his many skills. Schleis died Sept. 13 of COVID-19.
Submitted photo

Words and phrases describing Gerald "Jerry" Schleis pour out of his wife, Marie Farrell, like a cup overflowing. 

Generous. Friend to everyone. Modest but proud. An old-school craftsman. Staunch union man. Completely, totally and utterly unique. 

There's an old Sam Walter Foss poem that describes him well, Marie adds: Let me live in my house by the side of the road / and be a friend to man.

Except Jerry wouldn't be content to just sit in that house. 

"He'd go out walking in the road to look for those people to befriend or people that were in need," Marie said.

Born on Christmas Day 1942, Jerry grew up in Climbing Hill, Iowa, a town of about 100 residents south of Sioux City. During his 77 trips around the sun, Jerry lived in well over a half-dozen places, including Minneapolis, Washington state, Las Vegas and Tucson, where he met his wife.

Growing up on a steady diet of adventure novels, Jerry’s escapades, wanderlust and derring-do were the stuff of legend, Marie said. 

Click here to read Jerry's story. 

Terry L. Wood

1950-2020 | Went on Black Friday shopping adventures with her granddaughters

Terry L. Wood (middle), seen here celebrating Christmas with her grandchildren in 2019, died in May from COVID-19.
Terry L. Wood (middle), seen here celebrating Christmas with her grandchildren in 2019, died in May from COVID-19.
Special to the Register

The smell of the John Deere foundry where Terry L. Wood worked lingered on her clothes and skin, a layer of soot covered her face.

Terry, a single mom, was determined to care for her two kids. If they wanted something for Christmas, she worked other jobs to make the money, catching sleep when she could. 

“She basically did it for us,” said her son, Christopher Wood.

To her kids, Terry was strict but easygoing. She allowed them to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes. 

But she was “always backing us if there was an issue, always taking our side if we were honest with her," her daughter, Bobbie Hackett, said. "She always had a listening ear, always gave good advice.”

Click here to read Terry's story. 

Shawna Gilleland

1975-2020 | An Iowa Hawkeye fan who loved country music and Walmart trips

In April, coronavirus claimed the life of Shawna Gilleland, top left, seen here with her sisters, Kelly and Chera, and their parents, Randal and Martha.
In April, coronavirus claimed the life of Shawna Gilleland, top left, seen here with her sisters, Kelly and Chera, and their parents, Randal and Martha.
Submitted

Shawna Gilleland always ended nightly chats with her mother with the same few phrases.

"Good night. Sweet dreams. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Love you and talk to you tomorrow."

Although Shawna lived in a Burlington group home a few hours from her family in Lake Ozark, Missouri, she kept them close through frequent phone calls, ensuring their bonds weren’t severed by the distance, said her mother, Martha Gilleland. Shawna loved hearing stories about her nieces and nephews and talked fondly about the family’s camping trips.

"She called me at least half a dozen times a day," Martha said.

When Shawna was 6 months old, a mysterious, antibiotic-resistant infection left her with a burning fever. Unabating, the prolonged fever caused brain damage that resulted in a learning disability.

Doctors told Martha her daughter’s life had been irrevocably changed. She’d never be able to live independently, they said, or get behind the wheel of a car.  

"But I worked and worked and worked with her very hard for several years, and she was able to do both,” Martha said.

Click here to read Shawna's story.

Geanell Latimore

1981-2020 | Owned over 1,000 books and read constantly, even at family barbeques and holiday parties

Gene Latimore Jr. and Marquetta Latimore remember their younger sister Geanell as an enthusiastic cook and avid reader.
Gene Latimore Jr. and Marquetta Latimore remember their younger sister Geanell as an enthusiastic cook and avid reader.
Olivia Sun/The Register

There are people who really enjoy reading. There are bibliophiles.

And then there’s Geanell Shavon Latimore.

The owner of exactly 1,058 tomes, all of which she kept in her bedroom, Geanell plowed through six books a week. Self-care paperbacks and romance novels were her favorites, said her older sister, Marquetta Latimore.

Geanell would often be reading one book while listening to another. And she’d show up to family barbeques and holiday parties with the proof: a best-seller under her arm and her headphones and tablet at the ready. When the author’s words caused Geanell to bust out laughing or shed a tear, her family always demanded to know just what was going on between those covers.

Known to work overtime to feed her habit, Geanell stowed away what money she could to afford the next great read she’d add to her stacks.

Click here to read Geanell's story. 

Jose Dolores Guevara Ramirez

1930-2020 | Made a delicious lime ice cream from the fresh fruit he grew in his garden.

Veronica Guevara poses for a photo holding a portrait of her grandfather Jose Dolores Guevara Ramirez, aka Don Lole, who died of COVID-19 in Marshalltown.
Veronica Guevara poses for a photo holding a portrait of her grandfather Jose Dolores Guevara Ramirez, aka Don Lole, who died of COVID-19 in Marshalltown.
Brian Powers/The Register

Jose Dolores Guevara Ramirez, known as Don Lole, cultivated such strong, deep roots in the small, rural town of Villachuato, Mexico, that he became a living landmark.

Don Lole was a legal resident of Iowa who split time between his hometown in Mexico and the heartland. In the Hawkeye State, Don Lole found a slow pace and an obliging culture, a world he deeply understood.

“Iowa always felt familiar to him,” said his daughter, Veronica Guevara. “He would talk about the people and how neighborly they were, and he was just like, ‘Wow, everything is so similar’ — except the language, of course.”  

Click here to read Don Lole's story. 

Stan Patrick

1935-2020 | A Cubs fan who once met Ernie Banks and had him sign his sack lunch’s paper bag

Scott Patrick, Sheli McDonald and Shari Roberts pose for a photo holding a portrait of their father, Stan Patrick, who died of COVID-19.
Scott Patrick, Sheli McDonald and Shari Roberts pose for a photo holding a portrait of their father, Stan Patrick, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Stan Patrick bled Cub blue.

A fan among fans, he lived and breathed Chicago Cubs baseball. That deep, abiding passion for the one-time lovable losers will now stay with him forever.

After his death from COVID-19 at age 85 on May 27 in Oskaloosa, he was buried with a Cubs hat and a picture of Wrigley Field. 

In 2016, after the Cubs won their first title since 1908, Stan's daughter Shari Roberts sent her father red and blue balloons and candy to celebrate the occasion. And when the Cubs went to the World Series, his other daughter, Sheli McDonald, brought a copy of the Des Moines Register front page and snapped a photo with her dad holding it while wearing a Cubs jersey she bought him.

Click here to read Stan's story.

Abbie Irene Eichman

1983-2020 | Loved building Legos and running corn mazes with her husband

Bret and Caroyle Andrews pose for a photo holding a portrait of their daughter Abbie Eichman, 36, who died of COVID-19.
Bret and Caroyle Andrews pose for a photo holding a portrait of their daughter Abbie Eichman, 36, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Abbie Eichman was meticulous at work and home, where she fashioned a labeled box for every pair of her shoes and rotated them through her closet based on the season. She never bored of clothes, routinely selling old pieces and buying new ones to complement her collection of designer bags.

Now, Abbie's parents, Bret and Caroyle Andrews, find themselves slowly making their way through their only daughter’s massive wardrobe. 

Abbie was 36, living with her soulmate and doing a job she loved in her native Des Moines, when she died of COVID-19 on July 3 at age 36.

Click here to read Abbie's story

Brent 'Ben' Newton

1969-2020 | A Native American and former bartender who told stories that captivated everyone in earshot 

Jackie Newton poses for a photo holding a portrait of her husband, Brent 'Ben' Newton, who died of COVID-19.
Jackie Newton poses for a photo holding a portrait of her husband, Brent 'Ben' Newton, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

When Ben Newton was still in high school, his friend Jeff Wall introduced Ben to his sister Jackie, hoping they would hit it off so he and Ben would be brothers. 

Jackie was intrigued enough by her brother’s stories to give Ben a look.

Jackie and Ben shared a spark almost instantly. After Ben got home from school, the pair would be nearly inseparable the rest of the night. Two months later, they were married, a union that lasted 33 years and grew to include a daughter, Keli, and four grandchildren.

"He just really brightened up everybody that he came in contact with," Jackie said.

When health problems forced Ben to retire, he kept himself busy. He was constantly visiting neighbors, volunteering with the Cub Scouts and telling his stories at his town’s annual Frontier Days celebrations.

“His humor. His smile,” Jackie said, pausing slightly between each trait of Ben’s that she misses. “And his wisdom.”

Click here to read Ben's story

Ed McCliment

1934-2020 | A world-traveling physics professor beloved by his Iowa City neighbors 

Ed McCliment's daughter Nancy Korpela, center, holding his portrait, and his granddaughters Hannah Landa and Hillary Korpela pose for a photo.
Ed McCliment's daughter Nancy Korpela, center, holding his portrait, and his granddaughters Hannah Landa and Hillary Korpela pose for a photo.
Olivia Sun/The Register

A Detroit-born go-getter, Ed McCliment graduated from the University of Michigan but became a diehard Hawkeye fan as a 40-year physics professor at the University of Iowa.

His work as a high-energy physicist took him on research trips to far-flung places — including Russia, Brazil, Switzerland and three separate stints in Germany — and on adventures closer to home, including atom-smashing at the famed Fermilab in the western Chicago suburbs.

“Your classic physics professor,” Nancy Korpela, one of Ed's three daughters, said of her father. “A brilliant man, but a kind-hearted man. One of my friends called and said he was ‘a regular guy.’ … He never made you feel different from him.”

Click here to read Ed's story

Lucille Dixon Herndon

1928-2020 | Famous for her annual back-to-school barbecues, where hotdogs and hamburgers were served with chips and well wishes

Daughter Lucia Herndon, great-granddaughter Jordan Dashields and granddaughter Melissa Horning Dashields pose for a photo holding a portrait of matriarch Lucille Dixon Herndon, who died of COVID-19.
Daughter Lucia Herndon, great-granddaughter Jordan Dashields and granddaughter Melissa Horning Dashields pose for a photo holding a portrait of matriarch Lucille Dixon Herndon, who died of COVID-19.
Special to the Register

Lucille Dixon Herndon ensured her family’s yard was a childhood dream made real.

The matriarch extraordinaire kept extra bicycles in the garage and an extra plate filled in the kitchen. And when it came time to take a dip in the swimming pool near Good Park, Lucille, a mother of seven, was always able to fish out a few extra dimes for the kids who couldn’t come up with their own.

“She didn’t want children not to have,” her daughter Lucia Herndon said. “She didn’t want children to be sad. She just couldn’t stand that.”

A sweet, calm, quiet “homebody,” Lucille became a wife at 16 — marrying William, her high school sweetheart — and a Roosevelt High graduate two years later. While William worked two jobs, providing the family’s income and financial support, Lucille took care of, well, basically everything else, Lucia said.

“When I was a kid, I thought we were just a family. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized we were a poor family,” Lucia said. “I lived my whole childhood thinking we were rich because I was so happy and snug and secure because our mother just loved us to pieces.”

Click here to read Lucille's story

Dorothy 'Dot' Thompson

1914-2020 | A farm wife who once raised $500 for charity with just one pie

Ron McBroom and his wife, Ginnie Hargis, pose for a photo holding portraits of their relative Dorothy "Dot" Thompson, who died of COVID-19.
Ron McBroom and his wife, Ginnie Hargis, pose for a photo holding portraits of their relative Dorothy "Dot" Thompson, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

A good lemon meringue pie takes practice. Over 105 years, Dorothy “Dot” Thompson practiced enough to be perfect.

For nearly her whole life, she was the belle of bake sales, the most popular party guest and the perennial winner of local fairs, earning enough ribbons, medals, plaques and trophies to fill the bookcase in her small nursing home room.

But for Dot, baking was much more than popularity and praise; it was about sharing a piece of herself. With each slice, Dot told her story — a tale that stretches back a century, a tale she kept telling with lattice, crumble and, yes, meringue right up until her last days.

Age never seemed to slow Dot down. She drove until she was 99, when she promptly stopped by the DMV and told staff that she’d like to turn in her license, please. She finished the newspaper’s daily word Jumble until she was about 104, when her artificial lens implanted after an early cataract surgery came loose. She liked to tell people she "outlived" her eyes’ shelf life, her cousin-in-law Ginnie Hargis said.

Dot never claimed to know the secret for longevity. “Treat everybody nice” is all she’d say. 

Click here to read Dot's story

Regina Thiry

1957-2020 | Loving grandmother and avid Iowa Hawkeyes field hockey fan

Husband Ken Thiry poses for a photo holding a portrait of his wife, Regina Thiry, who died of COVID-19.
Husband Ken Thiry poses for a photo holding a portrait of his wife, Regina Thiry, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Regina Thiry was an expert quilter.

But, this past spring, she put her sewing skills to use in a different way.

As COVID-19 spread in March and April, she made masks for anyone and everyone in an effort to protect them from the respiratory disease seeping into the Hawkeye State.

One of seven children, Regina was someone who always put everyone else's needs before her own, said her husband, Ken — especially people in need, and especially her two daughters and five grandchildren.

"The mom and the grandma came first," Ken said.

Click here to read Regina's story

Wiuca Iddi Wiuca

1984-2020 | A Congolese refugee who found a home in Iowa 

The Rev. Ishibwami Job Mamboleo shows a photo of Wiuca Iddi Wiuca, who died of COVID-19.
The Rev. Ishibwami Job Mamboleo shows a photo of Wiuca Iddi Wiuca, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Wiuca Iddi Wiuca spent most of his life in limbo, searching for a place to call home.

When he was 12, his family fled war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They relocated to Tanzania, planning to make a temporary stop in the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, one of the largest such camps in the world.

Their stay lasted more than two decades.

Wiuca finally set out to begin his new life last summer. Traveling to the United States with his younger brother, the pair joined their sister and her family, who had already been placed in Des Moines.

Click here to read Wiuca's story. 

Katie G. Jacobs

1923-2020 | As comfortable sweating in muck boots as she was chatting away in sparkly leopard flats

Walt Bussey and his wife, Cindy, pose for a photo holding a portrait of Walt's aunt Katie Jacobs, who died of COVID-19.
Walt Bussey and his wife, Cindy, pose for a photo holding a portrait of Walt's aunt Katie Jacobs, who died of COVID-19.
Olivia Sun/The Register

Walt Bussey kept his Aunt Katie Jacobs' leather work boots when she moved into a nursing home eight years ago, hoping she would one day return to the family farm to wear them again.

Katie was more like a sister than an aunt, said Walt, who spent a lot of time on his grandparents' farm near Council Bluffs, where Katie lived and worked most of her life. 

A kind, soft-hearted woman with a dry sense of humor, Katie loved to shop, priding herself on wearing fashionable clothes, shoes and jewelry, said Walt's wife, Cindy.

"She was very classy, very stylish," she said.

Click here to read Katie's story

Read the names of more than 200 Iowans killed by coronavirus

Behind the stats that roll in regularly, there are people whose lives have been affected — and sometimes ended — by the virus.

Together, we can make certain the more than 1,400 Iowans lost to COVID-19 will always be more than a number. Read their names, ages and towns. Get to know who they were and how they lived.