Someone You Should Know: Widow shares story about losing husband during pandemic

Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 8:21 AM CDT
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Losing a loved one is emotionally hard, but it's even harder during a pandemic when you can't be around others. Whether a death is due to COVID-19 or not, many people are having to deal with it alone. Jean Saunders has had to deal with her husband's death alone since the end of March.

Dave Saunders wanted people to celebrate his life, so that's what Jean is trying to do by sharing his story. Dave was a U.S. Navy veteran, who liked to make people laugh.

"He was very animated, and he looked kind of gruff on the outside because you know, he was a big guy. But he had a very soft, caring heart, especially for kids," Jean said.

Dave was involved in multiple organizations like Guardians of the Children and Bikers Against Child Abuse. He was an El Riad Shrine Clown for more than 10 years. He was known as Cotton.

"We have a special saying that when someone tells a dad joke or a joke, you're like ugh! We call it a Cotton joke," Paul Buriak said.

Buriak is known as Mulligan among the El Riad Shrine Clowns. The two knew eachother for about six years. Buriak said not being able to say goodbye in person was hard.

"There was two times I was able to Facetime him, and that was it. That was the only time I got to talk to him, only time I got to see him, and that makes it hard, especially when you know how close it is and what's going on, and there's nothing you can do. It's frustrating," Buriak said.

Jean said her husband had surgery on his hip more than a year ago and ever since, he had health problems. Dave was taken to the Mayo Clinic the end of February in 2020 and passed away March 28th.

"Those last three days were tough. Like I said, a lot of crying and a lot of laughing because he kept his wit right up until the end," Jean said.

Dave will be buried at the state veterans cemetery being built in Sioux Falls in the fall.