Betty Orlovsky was a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Windber.
She was married to husband George for 59 years, and they had two daughters – Diane and Cheryl. Betty had numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Walter C. Hill – nicknamed “Moe” – was a World War II Navy veteran and worked at GE Supply for 45 years.
His family said Moe was very religious, and he was a 28-year member of Windber United Methodist Church, and a 70-year member of 1st United Methodist Church, Johnstown.
His son Albert C. Hill lives in Geistown, and Moe was blessed with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren.
I know these things about Betty Orlovsky and Moe Hill because I read their obituaries in The Tribune-Democrat.
That’s how I also learned they both died due to complications from COVID-19.
Let me tell you about another wonderful person lost to the pandemic.
She played piano, led a youth group and sang alto in the church choir. She loved oil painting – landscapes, portraits, still lifes.
She was a single mother who worked hard and sacrificed much to hold her family together.
She inspired many with her strength, faith and grace.
She loved reading and doing word puzzles, and was a stickler for grammar, sentence structure and spelling.
She was my first editor and drilled those writing basics into my brain long before I even thought about a career in journalism.
My mother, Marjorie, passed away on Thanksgiving morning, a victim of COVID-19.
And like Moe Hill, Betty Orlovsky and far too many others, she was so much more than a medical data point.
Each day we report the number of new and total coronavirus cases in local counties and across the state, and the number of people who die from virus complications.
But each of those “statistics” – Marjorie, Betty, Moe and nearly 300,000 others across the country – was a person, loved and now missed by their families and friends.
They left permanent imprints on their neighborhoods, their co-workers, their loved ones.
While we mourn together the incalculable loss suffered by our communities, we should also celebrate the lives lived, the families raised, the impact made on the world.
Has someone close to you been lost to COVID-19?
I urge you to contact me or our newsroom and help us share that person’s story.
Especially during the holidays, let’s join together and embrace these people who were taken away too soon – but who live on in our hearts and memories.
People such as Moe Hill, who coached in the Moxham Lutheran Basketball League and was an avid duckpin bowler.
And Betty Orlovsky, whose family took time to thank Laurelwood Care Center and Grane Hospice, where dedicated staffers cared for Betty.
Betty’s family offered a farewell message:
“Love you, Mom.”