CBS 11 takes a look back at some of the North Texans who passed away from COVID-19 one year into the pandemic.
- This month marks one year since the first death in North Texas is attributed to COVID-19. And since that moment, so many more have sadly followed. This afternoon, our Doug Dunbar takes a few minutes to remember some of those who made their mark not only on their families and their friends but on their communities and, most importantly, on this world.
DOUG DUNBAR: March of 2020-- Orlando McDaniel was a dedicated husband and father, a track coach revered by athletes all across North Texas. Before the month would end, McDaniel became one of the first North Texans to be lost to COVID.
Three months later, Rachel Mata Pacheco was taken to the hospital by her husband Carlos. Days later, he was sick too. By late July, the love story for Rachel and Carlos came to a close at different hospitals within three hours of each other.
James Beckers was beloved by his kindergartners at Cochran Elementary.
- He was the best teacher I ever had.
DOUG DUNBAR: Mr. Beckers taught kids for over 20 years and is said to have loved his students nearly as much as his own two daughters.
In Denton County, they mourned the loss of Chief Deputy Constable Wayne Rhodes, a husband, a father, a grandfather who always told others to strive to be the best you can be in everything you do in life.
Decatur said goodbye to County Judge Melton Cude who was in his ninth term of service to Wise County.
The loss of 17-year-old Jameela Barber hit hard at Lancaster High School. Jameela is remembered as an exceptional student who would capture you instantly with that smile.
- It is devastating and heartbreaking, and it is a tremendous loss for the Lancaster High School family.
- Joseph Quillen, Jr. Spent 19 years as a detention officer in Collin County, but he spent a lifetime as a loving husband, father, and a true friend.
Grand Prairie's mayor pro tem Jim Swafford spent a lifetime in service to his community.
Alex Arango was married, had two daughters, two grandkids, and great-grandkids. The Everman police officer protected his community for 27 years.
And Officer Tracy Gaines protected the kids at Rockwall High School as their resource officer. He is said to have always had a smile and a wave and time for those who needed it.
Wade Sanders, he was a husband, a father, a son who Nick and Linda Sanders were so very proud of.
LINDA SANDERS: He was such a family guy. We know because he used to say it all the time to us. It's such a beautiful gift to be a father. I pray that I can be half the father my dad was to me.
DOUG DUNBAR: For 51 years, Louis Ayala cut hair in this very shop on North Main Street in Fort Worth, 75 years a barber. His family says he never met a stranger, loved people, and loved life.
And JJ Boatman barely got the chance to even begin his life. Days after he celebrated his ninth birthday, the king of giving hugs who was a brother, a cousin became one of the youngest victims.
GABRIEL AYALA: He was a loving, caring little boy. Like every time he would see you or see us, any family member, he would run up and hug you.
DOUG DUNBAR: At just 44 years old, Jeremy Morgan grew up in Waxahatchie, played on their 1992 championship football team, became a husband, a father, and was living out his dream of coaching football.
Only four years older, Dallas Sergeant Bronc McCoy is said to have been living out his dream of serving behind the badge.
And after decades of representing Texas in Washington, Ron Wright became the first sitting member of Congress to die after contracting COVID.
And the loss of Bill Mack hit hard for over-the-road truckers. For years the Midnight Cowboy, as he was called, was the one voice they could always count on on their radios late at night.
In many of those same years, Dallas firefighter Michael Dorety was dedicated to helping others in his job. He and wife Susan had just celebrated 40 years of marriage.
SUSAN DORETY: He was a great papa and a fierce protector of his family.
DOUG DUNBAR: But for the wife of Dallas native Billy Loredo, who lost his fight against COVID in November, it is the letter that he wrote to her that will forever help fill a broken heart.
- If I don't make it, I want you to know that I lived a happy, wonderful life with you and would never have traded it for all the riches in the world.
DOUG DUNBAR: We remember them one. We remember them all. I'm Doug Dunbar, CBS 11 News.