Among the dead ... - Albuquerque Journal

Among the dead …

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A shrine in a Santa Fe neighborhood memorializes those who have died from COVID-19 in New Mexico and around the world. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The virus’s deadly toll can be seen daily, weekly, in obituaries published in the pages of local newspapers and on funeral home websites.

Here are just 15 – about 1.5% – of the more than 1,000 New Mexicans lost to COVID-19 over the last seven months:

John Lawrence Plath, 91, who graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1946, raised five children with his wife of 66 years and loved to square dance and water ski in his younger years.

His eldest son and namesake, 68-year-old Johnny Walter Plath, who loved collecting coins and was involved in restoring antique neon signs up and down Route 66 – including the one for the De Anza Motor Lodge. The younger Plath caught the virus from his father and the two died a month apart in April and May.

Marcia Lincoln, 85, who practiced law for two decades in Albuquerque and loved to travel, garden, host dinner parties and camp.

Air Force veteran Harold Morris Burnett, 91, who worked with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and then owned the “Ojo de Dios” bookstore. His customers frequently referred to him as “Mr. Ojo.”

Anna Baker May, 96, a “voraciously curious” home cook who kept her house spotless and whose distaste of mice became a family joke – relatives near and far began gifting her tiny mice figurines, Christmas ornaments, beaded mice and felted mice in formal attire, prompting her to laugh with glee.

Al Kendrick, 95, of Aztec who worked for the state’s Oil Conservation Division for 25 years and was described as an “engineer’s engineer” who could repair anything mechanical or electrical.

Mary Ann Yazzie, 96, from the Navajo Nation, who worked like “Rosie the Riveter” making nuts and bolts in Idaho during World War II, and more recently loved watching Lakers basketball games on a flat screen TV.

Richard P. Valdez Sr ., 74, who retired in 2001 and spent his time traveling, visiting with his grandchildren and serving his Catholic community.

Jody Samuel Mares, 49, the “life of every party,” only son and big brother to five sisters. He worked in the medical field for over 20 years.

Gloria Perretti Nolte, 91, who never met a stranger and was known for welcoming her kids’ roommates, a new priest, a graduate student from the supermarket line or the bicycle delivery boy to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. She and her late husband of 66 years shared a passion for ballroom dancing and would move the furniture in the living room to practice their steps.

Robert Ullo, 94, of Farmington who misrepresented his age and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and went on to fight in the Battle of Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. After the war, he met a young lady who worked at a general store that he frequently walked past and, following a few months of courtship, the couple married and raised two children.

Andrew Philip Sanchez, 63, who worked first in the grocery business and then with tiles, loved the Steelers football team and watching his granddaughter play volleyball.

Elvira Salazar, 97, who grew up in a small community near Chimay ó and hosted swanky parties in the ’50s and ’60s with guests and neighbors dressed to the nines. Later in life she fully embraced her role as a doting grandmother – even joining family trips to Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Italy.

Ronald “Pat” Coleman, 76, who fostered and adopted dogs for years and whose love of animals meant they immediately felt drawn to him. He died on his youngest grandson’s birthday.

And 34-year-old William Blaine Hillburn of Farmington, a father to a 6-year-old son, whose obituary closed with a plea: “Stay safe, wear a mask to protect yourself and others and remember that even though the death rate is very low, young people are dying.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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