This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.
Dennis Brandao, 77, of Osterville, Mass., died on Jan. 26, 2021, after becoming ill with COVID-19. He’s among the more than 556,000 Americans who have succumbed to the disease since the first known fatality in the U.S. in early 2020.
Brandao’s daughter, Denise Harris, told Yahoo News that her father was a loving husband, father and grandfather. “He had a heart of gold, and a smile that lit up worlds,” Harris said.
“There was nobody closer to me. We just had a special type of relationship. ... I was always a daddy's girl, and even to this day, you know, I will always be,” Harris added.
Brandao lived most of his life on Cape Cod. For nearly 40 years, he owned and operated Dennis-John Formals, a chain of tuxedo stores. His daughter says he was a popular figure in Osterville, and was known for being a sharp dresser.
Harris described her father as a hard-working person. After retiring from his business, Brandao became a security supervisor at a shelter for women and children made homeless by domestic violence located in nearby Hyannis. Harris also worked there, and said her father was beloved by the staff and residents of the shelter.
After finishing his midnight shifts, Brandao drove for Uber and Lyft. Harris says it was a fun gig for her dad who “loved to drive and to be around people.”
In early January, Brandao contracted COVID-19. Twelve days after testing positive for the virus, her father began to experience shortness of breath and became delirious. He was hospitalized for almost two weeks before he lost his battle with the disease.
Harris, an only child, says losing her father has been devastating. As a way to cope with her grief and to honor her father and other Cape Cod COVID-19 victims, Harris is working to create a flag memorial at the airport rotary in Hyannis.
“It's just a way for families to know that their loved ones are being thought of, and it's just a little way to honor them,” Harris said.
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