Coronavirus has taken the lives of almost 33,000 New Yorkers as of early May 2021. But few names — and even fewer faces and stories — have been shared publicly.
THE CITY is working with some top local journalism schools to change that, one person at a time, with the launch today of the first iteration of the “MISSING THEM” searchable memorial.
Through hundreds of emails, phone calls and internet searches, we’ve also been able to memorialize, in words and pictures, some coronavirus victims.
And we’re only just getting started.
We talked to Ada Mae Void Rivers’ family. The daughter of South Carolina sharecroppers arrived in New York in 1958 at the age of 18, “determined to make a better life,” her family said. She worked 33 years as a timekeeper for the city’s Human Resources Administration before retiring a decade ago and becoming a deacon in a Baptist church in The Bronx.
We talked to the daughter of Martha Diaz, who died at 90 after a lifetime of struggle. She emigrated from her native Peru on her own in her 30s, worked in city garment shops and took night classes to become a master seamstress — only to quit in the 1970s after refusing to work without a union.
Diaz died early on May 4 on the seventh floor of Regal Heights Nursing Home in Jackson Heights, Queens. Her daughter, Maria Guillermo, wasn’t allowed to say goodbye — but escorted her body to a first-floor “cold room” where she rubbed her mother’s still-warm feet, saying, “See you later, alligator.”
And then there was Luis Eduardo Riascos, a Colombian immigrant who drove a taxi in the city for 21 years. At 59, he had seen it all — including passengers spitting at him and robbing him at gunpoint.
But the Queen dad worked through birthdays and holidays, never taking a vacation, to give “his kids the opportunities he didn’t have,” his daughter said.
We invite you to take a look at these New Yorkers who lived and died in our city. You can search the memorial by last name, age, borough or date of death.
If you know someone in the memorial, tell us a little more about them. If you don’t see a name, please let us know. You can share a story here.
We have a long way to go — and we need your help to ensure no one is forgotten.
MISSING THEM is a collaboration of THE CITY and Columbia Journalism School’s Stabile Center, Columbia Journalism Investigations and The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.