John Keith Vernier

John Vernier, a 62 year old Registered Nurse at Mercy Hospital South in St. Louis died of COVID-19 on January 12, 2021.

John was retired from the US Navy where he served for 21 years on submarines and served during Operation Desert Storm. After retiring from the military, John went back to school for his RN degree, and took a few classes with his daughter Christine who was also in nursing school. John had a true helper’s heart and was always there at any time for his family, friends, and coworkers.He had three daughters with his wife of 37 years, and LOVED being a grandpa. John was looking forward to retiring from his second career and enjoying more family time.

John Vernier is missed deeply by his wife, his father and step-mother, his three daughters, grandkids, coworkers at Mercy South Hospital, and everyone whose lives he ever helped make brighter.

Sources:

John Vernier obituary at Kutis Funeral Homes 

Peggy Grosberg Ross

Peggy Grosberg Ross died from COVID-19 on January 23, 2021 at the age of 90.

She was passionate about making a positive impact in this world and modeled charity, devotion, and compassion. Peggy was raised in a loving family that had a long tradition of giving back to St. Louis, and married Donald Ross, PhD in 1950. They raised their daughter and “spent their lives dedicated to furthering education, helping the needy, traveling to all parts of the world together and happily cruising the Mississippi River on their houseboat.”

Peggy’s true calling in life was philanthropy and making life better for others, and she inarguably succeeded at that. After surviving a near death experience in a fire, Peggy created the Edna Malen Scholarship Fund for the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College (Edna Malen was the lead burn nurse who saved Peggy’s life). In 55 years, the scholarship has helped many nurses to graduate.

Her generosity extended to the Jewish Hospital (BJC) where she became a lifelong member of the Auxiliary that raised millions of dollars for clinical development programs. Many of the campaigns were led by her. Her fundraising skills also benefitted the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis where she spent nearly 25 years as an active supporter, board member and advisor and was instrumental in leading programs to provide interest free loans to college-bound students. These were based solely on qualifications and need; not race, religion or gender.

She was very proud of the Jewish Federation’s Grosberg award, given to young leaders in the St. Louis Jewish Community. This award was created in honor of her parents David and Roselin Grosberg. In 2004 she was honored for her lifetime of commitment by being named one of St. Louis’ Women of Achievement. She became active in that outstanding organization that recognizes women in the community who’ve distinguished themselves by unselfishly giving with no thought of reward.”

Peggy Ross obituary at Dignity Memorial

Peggy Grosberg Ross is missed deeply by her daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends, acquaintances, community, and everyone whose lives were made a little better because of her humanitarian and philanthropic work.

Sources:


Seven Over 70: Peggy Ross (Ladue News, August 13, 2009)
 

Peggy Grosberg Ross obituary at Dignity Memorial 

Donna Lynn Schroen Naylor

Donna Schroen Naylor of Bethalto Illinois died of COVID-19 on December 11, 2020 at the age of 70. She caught the novel coronavirus in November and passed soon after.

Donna was a retired teacher, having touched countless young lives for 33 years in Cottage Hills and Bethalto East. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in education from Southern Illinois University, and was continually enriching her mind by reading books and learning. Donna never had her own children, and poured her love into her school kids, fur babies, and volunteer work. She and her late husband shared a passion for therapy dogs, which they’d take to local nursing homes. Long before COVID-19 hit, Donna knew the importance of making sure that families don’t go hungry; you could find her every Thursday at The House of Victory Food Pantry ministering, praying with, and giving groceries to those in need. She continued this volunteer work through the pandemic, until becoming sick herself from COVID. Donna is remembered as being one of the most cheerful people that anyone could possibly meet. “You could count on her to laugh at your feeblest joke and enthusiastically cheer your slightest success.”

Donna Schroen Naylor is missed deeply by her brother, small extended family, church family, huge circle of friends and acquaintances, and the countless people whose lives she touched.

Sources:

Donna Lynn Schroen Naylor obituary at Elias Kallal and Schaff Funeral Home 

Talmage “Tal” Dwain Hillman

Talmage Dwain Hillman of Godfrey IL died of COVID-19 on December 16, 2020 at the age of 75. His final message before he died was “wear a mask, the life you save may not be your own.”

Tal spent his life helping people live better lives through his work with the developmentally disabled at Bellefontaine Habilitation Center. He’s remembered for the way he lifted everyone up, helping employees he managed to reach their potential as they helped the residents they worked with. After retiring in 2013, Tal stayed in touch with his old coworkers, finally had time to golf more, and loved live shows and Cardinals games. Lately he had started to forget things and moved into an assisted living facility, but he “remembered two current things: Covid & he hated Trump.” Tal was still madly in love with his wife of 54 years and they were able to Facetime together before he passed.

Talmage Hillman is missed deeply by his wife, two daughters, son, grandchildren, extended family, huge circle of friends, and the many lives he touched through his long career of helping people with developmental disabilities live their best lives.

Sources:

Talmage Dwain Hillman obituary at Gent funeral Home 

Richard C. Mintzlaff

Richard “Dick” Mintzlaff died of COVID-19 on November 11, 2020 at the age of 77.

Dick worked with the St. Louis ARC for over 25 years, was an avid participant in community theater and Renaissance Faires, and did his best to live by his morals. He was also very active at his church (Zion Lutheran Church in Maryland Heights) writing Sunday school curriculum, singing in the choir, serving as an elder, and helping out in countless other ways. He would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need, and he’s remembered as being inclusive and welcoming to new people in his social and work spheres. Dic loved being a husband to his late wife and a father to his two girls more than anything.

Richard Mintzlaff is missed deeply by his two daughters, family, all the people at the St. Louis ARC whose lives he made brighter, his church family, huge social circles in the Renaissance Faires and St. Louis community theatre groups.

Sources:

  • Thanks to Healthcare Workers Lost to Covid for notifying me of this post on Faces of Covid via Twitter!

Dr. Nelly Grosswasser

Dr. Nelly Grosswasser St. Louis COVID-19 fatality

Nelly Grosswasser, Ph.D., a professor emerita of Russian literature and the founder of the Russian program at Saint Louis University, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 16, 2020 at the age of 95. 

She was described as being feisty and a “true force of nature”. Like the Russian literature she taught, Nelly’s life story involved romance, war, and spanned continents. She was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, USSR and moved with her brother to avoid the Nazis during World War II. She met her (late) husband Sol (who had just been released from a labor camp) while in Kazakhstan. They escaped to Germany after the war, eventually immigrating to the USA with their young son in 1949.

Although she had a BA in engineering, Dr. Grosswasser’s true calling was education, in which she earned an MA and PhD from Washington University. Her impressive career accomplishments are detailed beautifully in the sources below, but what she was probably most noted for was being St. Louis University’s first full-time Russian language teacher, remaining at the university for 47 years. Nelly mentored thousands of students, was voted most popular teacher at SLU numerous times, won many teaching awards, and continued to support students of Russian language long after retiring.

According to her obituary, “Nelly tried to ease the way for others. She prepared a booklet for Russian immigrants that explained how to shop, bank, get gas, etc. She helped them with job placement and translated documents for them. She also was a founding member (for over 50 years) of the “Culture Vultures”, a book group of working women whose motto was “No talking about diapers, children or husbands, just literature”.”

Nelly is missed deeply by her brother, son and daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchild, friends, and all the thousands of people who she taught, mentored, and otherwise helped.

Sources:

William “Bill” French

William “Bill” French lost his fight with COVID-19 on December 20, 2020 at the age of 77.

In 1977 Bill founded Wm French Buyers Real Estate Services, Inc., a comprehensive relocation service that focused solely on the buyers’ interests with a relocation plan tailored specifically to their needs. It was, at the time, the first and only buyers-only model agency in the country, and grew to be the largest. Bill worked tirelessly to grow the business as he and his wife raised their two sons. He was a passionate advocate and volunteer for the Independence Center, served on the Board of Directors for 8 years, and never missed an opportunity to assist in furthering the organization’s mission to holistically help those with severe and persistent mental illnesses.

Bill French is missed deeply by his wife (the love of his life), two adult sons, grandchildren, employees, huge circle of friends and colleagues, those whose lives he touched through his volunteer efforts with the Independence Center, and the countless people whose lives he brightened while on this earth.

Sources:

Ellen Lydia Brasunas

Ellen L. Brasunas died of COVID-19 three days after turning 96 on November 19, 2020.

Ellen was a woman who gave to others and helped them heal. She first worked as a psychiatric nurse, stopping to raise her three children and returning to work as a public health and school nurse once she moved to St. Louis. When she was 52 she went back to graduate school to pursue her passion, counseling, and opened her private practice in 1980. She continued to be active as a therapist, and held her license until at least 2017.

Ellen Brasunas is deeply missed by her 3 adult kids, grandkids, great-great grandkids, extended family, church family at the St. Louis Ethical Society, huge circle of friends, and countless others who she helped out in life.

Listen to Ellen talking about facing adversity, handling transitions in life, practicing self care, and finding joy in this podcast originally found on the St. Louis Ethical Society’s archives from 2015.

Sources:

Rose Beatrice “Bea” Gillooly

“Bea” Gillooly of Ferguson MO died of Covid-19

Rose Beatrice “Bea” Gillooly of Ferguson MO died of Covid-19 on November 18, 2020 at the age of 98. She suffered from dementia the past few years, but she still knew and loved her family.

Bea was a woman ahead of her time, encouraged by her husband Dick (who was accomplished in the field of space exploration at McDonnell Douglas). Bea learned about the stock market and investing in a progressive women’s group after Dick opened a checking account in her name (at a time when women could not open accounts on their own). She was paid a salary to be a homemaker because her late husband also recognized that caregiving and housekeeping is a valuable service too often (still) uncompensated and unacknowledged.

Her obituary briefly attempts to summarize Bea’s fascinating life: “Bea’s two passions in life were traveling and reading. Beginning in 1968, and as often as she could, she traveled the world.  She visited multiple countries on six continents, taking photos whenever possible.  Reminiscing of those trips when viewing photos brought her great joy over the years.  In her early St. Louis years, Bea joined a women’s book group and continued to meet monthly to discuss books, politics, and current events for over 50 years.  In addition to raising 10 children, Bea was an active volunteer.  She started a rental book system at Sts. John and James allowing families to pay a small annual fee to borrow books for the school year and not have to purchase new sets for their children each year.  She was involved in The Experiment in International Living, allowing children and students from other countries to temporarily live with host families in the St. Louis area.  She went on to become a board member of that group as well as a docent for the First Street Forum, a contemporary art gallery. She was also involved as a volunteer for the ScholarShop for many years.”

Even later in life, Bea was engaged and active volunteering and learning new things. She had an email address early on, and used the internet for research. Bea kept abreast of politics, voting in the 2016 election. She was a proud progressive Democrat and fan of Rachel Maddow.

Her family’s statement reads: “Many of her children would have been with her in the end if she hadn’t  been isolated in a Covid 19 ward for her last two weeks.  We hold the Trump administration directly responsible for robbing us of the opportunity of saying goodbye to our mother.”

Bea Gillooly is missed deeply by her nine surviving children, numerous grand and great grandchildren, her wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and the many people who she inspired and helped lift up.

Sources:

Rose Beatrice “Bea” Gillooly obituary at St. Louis Cremation 

Thomas Eise

Thomas Eise - St. Louis COVID-19 death

Thomas Eise of St. Ann, MO died of COVID-19 on November 12, 2020 at the age of 67. He went in for a knee replacement, developed cellulitis, and then coronavirus. He supported the shutdowns to flatten the curve, socially distanced, wore a mask… and despite taking every precaution, he still caught COVID-19.

Tom was a hard working man who was fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He was empathetic, a listening ear when you needed one, and raised his step daughters as his own.

in April, 2020 Tom wrote the following poem which one of his daughters shared with the message:

“We lost my dad to COVID this last week. He was careful, he supported the lockdowns and mandates, but too many around him didn’t. He went in for a knee replacement and developed cellulitis. They sent him home on a Wednesday (I picked him up) and he barely made it inside. We assumed that it was pain and such. 36 hours later he was taken back to the ER by ambulance. He was hallucinating and a mess. His oxygen was in the 60s. They then decided to test for Covid. Next day ventilator, next day chemical paralysis- and he was not able to recover. He was 67He (Tom Eise) wrote this poem back in April.””

Facebook

You Know Me – a poem by Thomas Eise

I don't want to get ill or die
Cant you just please comply

I'm a person and have a name.
To you this is an inconvenience, a game

I'm an artist, a singer.
I'm your postman or pick up
your trash.

I'm a doctor, intern or nurse.
I'm young and quiet. I'm old
and brash

I'm your neighbor, the grandmother
up the street.

I'm the towtruck driver, I
pour concrete

You Know me

I don't want to get ill or die
Can't you just please comply

Thomas Eise is missed deeply by his partner in life, Mary Jo Purcell, a son and daughter, two step-daughters, grandchildren, six siblings, and a host of friends.

Sources:

Thomas Eise obituary at Ortmann Funeral Home 

Poem by Thomas Eise – from Facebook (see sources and embeds above)

Alice “Irene” Cordes

Alice “Irene” Cordes of Eureka MO died from complications of COVID-19 on November 8, 2020 at the age of 94. Two of her daughters were with her in the hospital at the time she passed, and she got to see her only living son and talk with her close family in the days before she died.

Irene worked as a nurse for almost 60 years, starting off in 1948 preparing to serve in the Nurse Cadet Corps, but WWII ended before she graduated. When she retired, Irene volunteered for Hospice and continued helping others, even after she quit driving at age 90. Her heart and love was most reserved for her five children, who she raised alone after divorcing from a 15 year marriage (in 1964).

Irene is remembered as being a “sunshine lady”; cheerful, resilient, and resourceful. She tried to live Christian morals, and going to church and reading the Bible were very important to her. She also enjoyed needlepoint, solving crossword puzzles, playing organ (which she taught herself), loved doing jigsaw puzzles, and was hard to beat at Scrabble.

Irene Cordes is deeply missed by her surviving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, and the many friends she made and countless lives she helped make a little better during her long career as a nurse and very long lifetime of helping others.

Sources:

Alice “Irene” Cordes obituary at Schrader Funeral Homes 

Angela R. Jones

This memorial is unedited, as written by her family: Angela Renee Jones, 53, passed on May 9, 2020 after contracting COVID-19.

Angela Renee Jones was born on January 26, 1967 in Saint Louis, Missouri. Angela belongs to a large family and an even bigger blended family. Angela was affectionately known as “Cookie” and also later as “Cook Book” and “Auntie Cookie”.

Angela was a proud graduate of Soldan High School. She kept in close contact with her fellow classmates and she loved to attend alumni events. After graduating from Soldan in 1985, Angela attended Southeast Missouri State University where she studied Accounting. She also attended Saint Louis Community College where she studied nursing. Angela earned her certification in Phlebotomy and she worked for the Saint Louis Red Cross for over 10 years. Angela always did her part to help serve others. Angela had a rare blood type and she regularly donated her blood.

Angela later worked for United Health Care Group for 13 years until she contracted COVID-19.

Angela always made the time to volunteer and serve in her community. She would often thank others for giving her the opportunity to serve.

Angela had a very full life and she was an avid traveler. Not only did Angela travel all over the United States, she traveled all over the world. Just to name a few places, she traveled to Jamaica, Belize, Dominican Republic and Cancun. She was so fearless. She never missed an opportunity to experience and travel. She was such an inspiration to so many people.

Cookie was a staple at family functions. She was always ready to help organize and put on a family function. Cookie was always there…. Graduations, Birthday Parties, Barbecues, The annual Fish Fry… Cookie was the glue to our family.

Angela never had any children of her own, however, she was a mother to so many of the children in our family. It takes a village and she certainly did her part to help raise, love and support so many kids. She sacrificed her life to others and gave selflessly. She touched so many lives. We thank God for the gift He gave to us in the person of Angela “Cookie” Jones.

Angela is dearly missed by her family, friends and loved ones. She was so special to us. Not a day goes by where we don’t have a memory of Cookie. We are so thankful for the time we did get to spend with her and all of the memories that we made with her.

Thank you for allowing us to share the life, memory and the legacy of our loved one!!

Sources:

  • contact from relative/close friend (niece)

In Loving Memory of a Beautiful Soul – by her loving sister

Angela R. Jones Affectionately known as Cookie was a beautiful soul that is Deeply missed!! 

Angela was a Loving Daughter, Sister, Friend and Auntie. 

She was witty…
She had a quirky sense of humor…
She had a smart mouth…
She loved to travel all over the world…
She loved concerts & plays
She loved her family and they loved her back
She had no kids, but was a mother to many and took care of her many many nieces & nephews, great nieces & nephews and so many other kids who needed anything…
She had a heart of gold…
She was fun…

She’s gone but most certainly always in my heart and surely will never be forgotten!!

Written By: Her Loving Sister!

Jane Durbin Jensen

Jane Jensen of Kirkwood died of Covid-19 related complications at the age of 83 on October 25, 2020.

Jane was married to the love of her life, Bill, for 19 years until his untimely death in 1979. She returned to work, raised her four daughters, and never remarried. A devout Catholic, Jane lived her faith by helping others, and passed those values on to her daughters (two of them grew up to become doctors). After 20 years as a secretary at the Museum of Transportation, Jane retired and threw herself into volunteering with St. Patrick’s Center, St. Peters Church, and other community causes. She was truly a doer with actions behind her words and thoughts.

As Susan, the oldest daughter, told mom on her deathbed, she taught us about humanity, taught us to be compassionate and empathic in all we did.  She taught us all to make human connections and that life was worth living when we looked out for each other: family, friends and strangers.  

Jane Jensen is missed deeply by her daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, church family, and by the many people whose lives she helped make better through her volunteer work and friendship.

Sources:

Jane Jensen obituary at St. Louis Cremation 

Juanita Rice

Juanita Rice St. Louis City COVID-19 death

Juanita Rice died of COVID-19 on August 12, 2020 at the age of 94. Although she was quite old, she had not lost her spitfire spark.

Juanita was known as “Grandma Rice” to all her neighbors, and fearless of the growing crime around her. She was practically a neighborhood institution having lived in her house 67 years. Juanita was very active in Compton Heights Baptist Church, and was involved in the Inner-City Ministry (being their “oldest member”). Juanita worked the election polls for many years, and was active in her neighborhood and community. She loved listening to and going to Cardinals games, playing rummy, shooting pool, and telling a good story.

Juanita genuinely loved people and opened her home to those in need. Through trying to make this world a little better, she taught countless others how to love and to not give up hope, just keep on fighting and believing for a miracle ‘till the end. Faced with hardship in her own life, it only gave her more empathy, and she truly consistently lived her values. She would do anything to help family, a friend or an acquaintance if they needed her. She never gave up!

Juanita is missed by her surviving children, her grand children, extended family, many friends, church, and all her neighbors and those lucky enough to know her in any way.

Sources:

Juanita Rice obituary at Dignity Memorial 

Reginald Gladney

Reginald Gladney St. Louis COVID-19 death

Reginald Gladney died July 30, 2020 of COVID-19. He was 56 years old. Reginald served in the United States Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force for 21 years and retired a decorated veteran. After military retirement, he went onto a second career, working for in civil process as a St. Louis County Sheriff’s Deputy for 11 years and security for 17+ years with the St. Louis Blues Association.

More than his impressive career, Reginald was a mentor, friend, and father. He loved life, his family, and truly saw the beauty in other people. He took his joy from helping make life a little better for those blessed to know or even casually encounter him.

As his obituary so eloquently put it: “If you’ve ever been to a STL Blues game there is a very good chance you met our father Reggie. To our father, meeting people and being a joy bringer was something to look forward to. People are a valuable treasure and he treasured his Tribe.  Reggie, modeled himself to his favorite superheros Superman and Batman. He believed in goodness. He believed that every person is superhuman and had the ability to do good or harm. He believed in conscious choices, deliberate intentions, and grace. Our father believed in people and chose to live a life of service. If you haven’t guessed, our fathers love language was Acts of Service and he spoke it loudly. He practiced goodness, consciously, daily. His goodness was infectious. His smile was bigger than his face could contain. He had an expansive chest with massive pythons for arms. He could give a hug that enveloped your entire being. His deep belly laughter was the soundtrack to many special moments, as were his frequent threats of bodily harm, playful teasing, and random dancing. To our father you were his brother, sister, daughter, son, child, or sunshine. The greeting was a reminder, you were his family…

…He was humble, gentle, and kind.  Our father was a cultivator of joy. Everyone blessed with an encounter with Reggie, all became happier, healthier, better versions of ourselves because of his joy.”

If the point of life is to touch as many lives as possible, making them better, and bringing joy to your corner of the world, Reginald Gladney accomplished this.

Reginald Gladney is missed deeply by his three children, close-knit family, and the entire St. Louis region where he inspired and moved too many people to count.

Sources:

Lt. Colonel Gregory R. Hawkins

Lt. Colonel Gregory R. Hawkins death

Lt. Colonel Gregory R. Hawkins passed from complications of COVID-19 in late April 2020 at the age of 71. When he retired in 2007, he was the highest ranking African American at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He served our City for nearly 40 years, working his way up from cadet in 1968 to ultimately the position of Lieutenant Colonel and deputy chief, commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Bureau of Auxiliary Services.

Gregory Hawkins played a major role in revitalizing the Department’s Police Athletic League (P.A. L.),  whose mission is “.. to provide a positive and constructive environment through sports and activities for our St. Louis youth to grow and develop, keep them safe, and ensure that they choose a positive path for their future. We fill playgrounds, not prisons“.

Gregory Hawkins was also active in Dismas House Community Relations Board, and Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS). He never stopped serving the St. Louis community, and was active in helping out until he his death.

From (ARCHS):

ARCHS is deeply saddened by the COVID-19 related passing of one of our founding board members – Lt. Col. Gregory Hawkins.

Lt. Col. Hawkins was a 40-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (OFFICIAL). As a member of ARCHS’ Board Executive Committee, he provided an unwavering commitment to community service. ARCHS’ board and staff will fondly remember his strategic counsel, jovial nature, and flair for fashion. Condolences to his many family and friends.

Lt. Colonel Gregory R. Hawkins is missed deeply by his wife, three grown kids, extended family, his friends and colleagues at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and ARCHS, and all the countless children and families whose lives he touched.

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