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1 year later: The people we lost to COVID-19 in Nevada

In one year, COVID-19 exacted an abrupt and merciless toll across the farthest reaches of the globe.

The Scully family was among those caught in its path.

On March 15, 2020, just days after the novel coronavirus had been declared a global pandemic, Daniel Scully died alone in a Las Vegas hospital, marking the first COVID death in Nevada. He was 69.

“Nevada’s first,” his cousin, Robert, said at the time. “Lucky us.”

Weeks later, the man’s ashes would travel hundreds of miles by mail to his family in Chicago. When they arrived, his 96-year-old mother had just one request.

“Bury Danny with me,” instructed Ida Scully.

Her two surviving children agreed, though they believed she would be around for many more years.

But in a heartbreaking turn of events, less than two months after the family lost Daniel Scully to COVID, the same disease would claim the family matriarch.

Daniel Scully, center right, is pictured in 2019 with his siblings and their mother, Ida, center left. Daniel Scully, who died in a Las Vegas hospital on March 15, 2020, was Nevada’s first COVID-19 victim. The disease killed his mother two months later in Chicago. (Cissy Greenspan)
Daniel Scully, Nevada’s first COVID-19 victim, is pictured with his mother, Ida, in 2019. Two months after Daniel Scully’s death, the novel coronavirus would kill his mother in Chicago, the family’s hometown. (Cissy Greenspan)

Today, the mother and son are at rest, together, in the same plot in a Chicago cemetery. Ida Scully’s wish was granted.

“It’s still so hard to believe they’re both gone, but it is comforting to think of them going together,” Cissy Greenspan said in May at the graveside service for her mother and brother. “While friends are feeling sorry for our double loss, I’d rather feel gratitude that we have those family ties for my 64 years. I had a wonderful big brother and the best mother ever.”

When her brother died, Greenspan, 64, like most of the country, thought life would return to normal by May or June. And then, when it was safe to do so, she and her family could scatter Daniel Scully’s ashes at Wrigley Field.

At the time, she couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor her brother, a lifelong Cubs fan.

Until their mother’s death.

It’s still so hard to believe they’re both gone, but it is comforting to think of them going together

Cissy Greenspan

Now, twice robbed of a proper goodbye, the family finds peace in knowing that Ida and Daniel Scully are together.

“You don’t really move past it,” Greenspan said of her grief. “You just learn to live with it.”

In the year since Daniel Scully’s death, more than 5,000 others have died from the virus in Nevada.

The victims came from all walks of life.

Some called Nevada home their entire lives. Many had come from other parts of the country to settle down in the Silver State. Others had immigrated from Mexico and even from as far as the Philippines.

The youngest victim was 8, and the oldest 106.

Among them were doctors, nurses, musicians and educators. A magician, a police officer and a war veteran.

Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.

Our neighbors.

Here are some of their stories:

Cynthia Rapazzini keeps this photo of her late husband, Victor, on her nightstand. She speaks t ...
Cynthia Rapazzini keeps this photo of her late husband, Victor, on her nightstand. She speaks to the photo when she wakes up in the morning and before she goes to bed. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images

Victor A. Rapazzini, 83, spent the last 13 years of his life as an educator in the Clark County School District, primarily working with students with special needs.

“I couldn’t get him to retire,” said his wife, Cynthia. “He loved it.”

Antonio and Norma Zantua on the Oregon coast in 2019. (Aleina Roberson Photography)
Antonio and Norma Zantua on the Oregon coast in 2019. (Aleina Roberson Photography)

Antonio Zantua, 81, was raised by a family of farm workers in the Philippines. He was set to inherit land of his own one day. But he wanted more.

Zantua dreamed of becoming a doctor. He wanted to get married and have a family. He wanted to raise his children in the United States.

At the time of his death, the retired anesthesiologist had accomplished those dreams and more.

A photo of Don Chairez the day he was sworn in as a Clark County district judge in 1994. (Marin ...
A photo of Don Chairez the day he was sworn in as a Clark County district judge in 1994. (Marina Chairez)

Don Chairez, 65, was a longtime Clark County attorney who mentored many young lawyers throughout his career. He spent a lot of his free time studying cross-examination techniques and was well-versed in political history and strategic thinking.

His influence in Nevada stretches back decades, and his experience included immigration law, defense work and time as a prosecutor and judge.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who had known Chairez for 30 years, said he will be remembered for his warm smile and compassion.

Howard Berman, 66. (Diana Andriola)
Howard Berman, 66. (Diana Andriola)

Howard Berman, 66, was a casino dealer and blues aficionado. He played the drums, harmonica and piano, often performing at jam sessions around the valley and in Northern Nevada.

“He was well loved in the blues community,” said his best friend, Diana Andriola.

A photograph of Maria Urrabazo is displayed with handmade butterflies at her son's North Las Ve ...
A photograph of Maria Urrabazo is displayed with handmade butterflies at her son's North Las Vegas home. Urrabazo loved butterflies. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye

Maria Urrabazo, 79, immigrated to the United States when she was 8. Early one morning, she would tell her children throughout the years, she climbed into a small boat with her mom and two young brothers.

Dawn would soon give way to a new day, and just across the Rio Grande River was the land of opportunity.

Though she was unable to complete the naturalization process to become an American citizen before her death, her children said the family’s matriarch achieved the American dream all the same in the seven decades she called this country home.

Roy Horn, of the illusionist team of Siegfried & Roy, kisses a 6-week-old, white-striped tiger ...
Roy Horn, of the illusionist team of Siegfried & Roy, kisses a 6-week-old, white-striped tiger cub at his Las Vegas home in 2008. (AP Photo/Louie Traub)

Roy Horn, 75, was best known for being half of the famed Las Vegas entertainment duo Siegfried & Roy. But those who knew him well say he will be remembered as a fighter.

When Horn died in May, Siegfried Fischbacher said, “From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.”

Luis A. Frias leads the Los Gauchos Latinos dance troupe, performing with the Ringling Brothers ...
Luis A. Frias leads the Los Gauchos Latinos dance troupe, performing with the Ringling Brothers Circus in the early 1990s. (Luisa Frias)

Luis A. Frias, 65, was an international dancer trained by Argentina’s legendary Santiago Ayala.

People packed stadiums to see his stylized version of malambo, the folkloric Argentine dance of gauchos. In America, Frias performed at the Superdome, Madison Square Garden and the Las Vegas Strip.

Eventually, he would settle down in Las Vegas with his wife and their two daughters.

Betty Jane Donnelly, 92, raised seven children and loved 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildr ...
Betty Jane Donnelly, 92, raised seven children and loved 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. (Erin Matuz)

Betty Jane Donnelly, 92, was born and raised in Michigan but in 1985 followed some of her children to Las Vegas.

Donnelly worked for many years at Ethel M Chocolate Factory, inciting a longstanding family feud against See’s Candies.

She was a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party her entire life, and, as a mother of seven, happiest when surrounded by family.

A portrait awaits mourners before a burial service for Las Vegas police Lt. Erik Lloyd on Aug. ...
A portrait awaits mourners before a burial service for Las Vegas police Lt. Erik Lloyd on Aug. 19, 2020. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images

Lt. Erik Lloyd, 53, will be remembered for his impeccable work ethic and unmatched passion for his job as a police officer.

He had worked for the Metropolitan Police Department for nearly three decades, and for more than half of that time helped raise money for the families of fellow police officers hurt or killed in the line of duty.

Vincent DeJesus was a registered nurse at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. (Neil DeJesus)
Vincent DeJesus was a registered nurse at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. (Neil DeJesus)

Vincent DeJesus, 39, came from a family of health care workers, so it came as no surprise when he decided to become a nurse.

“He had a big heart,” his older brother, Neil, said. “He’s the most selfless person I know.”

DeJesus died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he worked as a registered nurse.

Sharon Fife with her husband, Gerald. They were married 60 years. (Facebook)
Sharon Fife with her husband, Gerald. They were married 60 years. (Facebook)

Sharon Fife, 82, loved to paint, read and study the Bible. And she was a fan of big, dangly earrings, according to her husband, Gerald.

She died four days after their 60th wedding anniversary.

The two met in Gary, Indiana. It was a whirlwind romance. Within three months, they were married.

Legendary Four Seasons band member Tommy DeVito poses in his home in Las Vegas on May 29, 2009.
Legendary Four Seasons band member Tommy DeVito poses in his home in Las Vegas on May 29, 2009.

Tommy DeVito, 92, was a founding member of the Four Seasons, a rock ’n’ roll band that later served as inspiration for the “Jersey Boys” musical.

DeVito sang baritone and played lead guitar for the band, which scored No. 1 singles and hit the top of the pop charts during the 1960s with a string of catchy, radio-friendly singles.

The story of the Four Seasons was depicted in “Jersey Boys,” a Tony Award-winning musical that debuted on Broadway in 2005 and was adapted for a 2014 feature film directed by Clint Eastwood.

In this 2016 Review-Journal file photo, English professor Felicia Campbell is pictured in her o ...
In this 2016 Review-Journal file photo, English professor Felicia Campbell is pictured in her office at UNLV.

Felicia Campbell, 89, was the longest-serving professor at UNLV, where her work as an English professor helped legitimize the academic discipline of pop culture.

Ahead of her time, Campbell also was the first professor to teach African American and Asian literature at UNLV.

“Beloved by her countless students, she was known for her kindness and inclusivity, stimulating teaching style and exacting academic standards,” said Jennifer Keene, dean of UNLV’s College of Liberal Arts.

Frank Cullotta, former mobster and associate of Anthony Spilotro, stops at a former mob busines ...
Frank Cullotta, former mobster and associate of Anthony Spilotro, stops at a former mob business location during a Las Vegas mob tour in 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s

Frank Cullotta, 81, was a former mob hit man who turned government witness.

He had a cameo role in the 1995 movie “Casino” and, later in life, was a tour guide for The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas.

“He was a killer who turned out to be a law-abiding citizen,” said retired Las Vegas police officer David Groover. “He was a witty, highly intelligent person with a lot of charisma.”

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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