If you’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 and would like to submit a remembrance to be featured here, please contact us at submissions@sareport.org.

The first community case of coronavirus in Bexar County was reported on March 13, 2020. A year and nearly 200,000 cases later, more than 2,800 San Antonians have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Night after night during the pandemic, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have delivered updates on the latest case numbers, the status of area hospitals, and the local death toll. While these numbers can help leaders make decisions around public health, they can’t begin to measure the impact on the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.

To learn about the people behind the numbers, the San Antonio Report invited readers to submit remembrances of loved ones lost to the pandemic. Here are some of their stories.

Josephine Cardenas, world traveler and devoted aunt

Josephine Cardenas

Josephine Cardenas had an adventurous spirit and a sparkle that could light up a room. She was generous with her time and support and was never afraid to experience life. 

Josephine was a commanding housing manager for the Air Force at Ramstein Air Base. On her many travels to Europe, she sent postcards and care packages to her family, introducing them to Bavarian wood puppets, the German traditional Christmas pyramid, and Kinder eggs before they hit the shelves in American stores. No matter the distance she always thought of her loved ones.

Read more about Josephine, as remembered by her niece, Amanda Mora.

Aida Chavez, beloved health care worker

Aida Chavez Credit: Courtesy / Rebecca Chavez

Aida Chavez was a humble, kind-hearted soul and an absolute joy to be around. She was well-loved by her family, church community, and co-workers and left a lasting impression on any life she touched.

Her Catholic faith was important to Aida. Along with her husband Richard and daughter Rebecca, she attended services and choir practices at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville – and later St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in San Antonio.

Aida worked at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital for many years, with many more years working as a unit coordinator for hospitals in San Antonio. At the start of COVID-19, she was the person at the front door of the hospital floor where she worked taking temperatures to allow access. She was a front-line worker, helping the doctors and nurses who helped everyone else. 

Read more about Aida, as remembered by her daughter, Rebecca Chavez.

Yolanda DeHoyos, caregiver and women’s health advocate

Yolanda DeHoyos, age 70. Credit: Courtesy / Gina Hobbs

From a young age, Yolanda DeHoyos stepped into a mother figure role for her siblings – and at times even for her parents. A natural caregiver and nurturer, Yolanda later entered the medical field at a women’s clinic. She served in the field for 36 years as an office manager, counselor, and registered medical assistant in a variety of women’s clinics in San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls, Texas.  

Passionate about helping women of all ages with health issues and empowering them to know their health rights, including abortion rights, my mother was a strong advocate for women most of her life. 

Read more about Yolanda, as remembered by her daughter, Gina Hobbs.

Juan Espinosa, inspiring father and teacher

Juan Espinosa Credit: Courtesy / Rebecca Espinosa Price

Juan Espinosa was a doting husband, encouraging father, and natural teacher. The lessons he taught his children and students helped them grow and will stay with them for a lifetime.

He was a Spanish teacher at New Braunfels High School for over 22 years, a job he worked hard for and cherished. Before becoming a teacher, he worked for several years at the gypsum plant in town while attending night school at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State). He sacrificed his free time to study every night in order to get his degree and teacher’s certificate. 

Read more about Juan, as remembered by his daughter, Rebecca Espinosa Price.

Joey Harvey, sports fanatic and burger enthusiast

Joey Harvey with niece, Ella, Christmas 2020. Credit: Courtesy / Margaret Grotte

Joey Harvey was a larger-than-life, 33-year-old sports fanatic, who worked for Spurs Sports & Entertainment for over a decade and lost his life to COVID-19. His outgoing, welcoming, friendly personality made an impact on countless San Antonians during his short time here on Earth.

One of his legacies at Spurs Sports & Entertainment was the (unofficial) SS&E Hamburger Club, a group of employees that met monthly to try and rank new burgers in town. Those Hamburger Club meetings were highlights for many at SS&E, who look back on those monthly lunches fondly. 

Read more about Joey, as remembered by his co-worker, Margaret Grotte.

James Lofland, accomplished engineer and family man

James Lofland Credit: Courtesy / Winter Prosapio

James Lofland was an engineer by schooling and by nature.  He was chief of the optic division of White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico until he retired. James was thoughtful in the things he did, soft-spoken, and generous of heart. His quiet nature reminded his stepchildren of their grandfather, who first taught them that silence could also mean love and rest in their happy but loud family.

When this wonderful engineer, loving husband, and stepfather joined a boisterous Hispanic family, he rode along the waves of their noise and activity like a cardinal. This virus cheated them of another lively gathering with him where he would smile and graciously share his kind heart.

Read more about James, as remembered by his stepdaughter, Winter Prosapio.

Jerry Townsend, decorated SAPD veteran

Jerry Townsend

Jerry Townsend was a native San Antonian and a 1967 graduate of Lee High School. He played on the 1965 team that went to the 4A state football championship in San Angelo and lost to Permian, 11-6. He went on to win a football scholarship to the University of Texas.

Jerry enjoyed a long career with the San Antonio Police Department, spending his final years on the force investigating financial crimes. He retired as a decorated department veteran after 33 years.

Read more about Jerry, as remembered by his wife, Joan Reeder Townsend.

Wages-Short family, a strong bond

The Wages-Short family has always been close. Over time and distance, they made sure to hold onto each other and maintain their strong bond. In the span of two months, they lost three beloved family members to COVID-19.

Sammy D. Wages Sr. served in the United States Army for 20 years before working at the University of the Incarnate Word. He was 68 when he died on Dec. 22, 2020. Dolores Short was a dedicated and affectionate mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and aunt. She was 84 when she died on Jan. 10, 2021. Donald Short was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was 57 when he died on Feb. 17, 2021.

Read more about the Wages-Short family, as remembered by Linda Wages.

Dora Ytuarte, cherished matriarch

Dora Ytuarte, age 71. Credit: Courtesy / Patty Moreno

Dora Ytuarte was a beautiful person, inside and out. She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who was loved by many.

Dora was born and raised in Castroville and later started a family in El Paso with her husband, Mario Ytuarte. Dora was a supportive wife and strong mother to her two children, Stephen and Suzann.

In 1975, the family moved to Lytle, where Dora and Mario watched their children grow up and start families of their own.

Read more about Dora, as remembered by her daughter-in-law, Patty Moreno.

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.