2020: 4 People We Lost

2020: 4 People We Lost

(HorizonPost.com) – Every year when December rolls around, it seems that human nature compels us to either look back at the things that have happened since last January or try to predict what’s coming next. In this case, it will be to remember four of the many notable people who left this Earth in 2020.

Jerry Relph

Born: September 4, 1944. Died: December 18, 2020.

Minnesota State Senator Jerry Relph was born in Massachusetts in 1944. He completed high school in Michigan and graduated from Law School in 1974.  After college, he joined the Marine Corps and spent 14 months in Vietnam. He was elected as Minnesota State Senator in 2016 and represented District 14 as a member of the Republican Party. He devoted his life to serving District 14 and helped write the bipartisan bill for emergency COVID-19 funding. 

Relph tested positive for COVID-19 in November and was hospitalized with complications. He eventually succumbed to the illness on December 18. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren. 

Herman Cain

Born: December 13, 1945. Died: July 30, 2020.

The Republican businessman and presidential hopeful rose out of poverty. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics and Master’s Degree in computer science. Cain served as deputy chairman and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City until 1996. In 1995 he was appointed to the Kemp Commission, where he served as an advisor. He entered the primary  2012 presidential election. In 2019 President Donald Trump considered recommending Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. 

On June 29, Cain, a stage-4 colon cancer survivor, learned that he was positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized for 4 weeks before passing away from complications of the illness at age 74.

Katherine Johnson

Born: August 26, 1918. Died: February 24, 2020.

This name may not jump out at people as quickly as the prior two, but she was an innovator in racial equality who was responsible, in part, for one of the biggest achievements made by Americans and mankind. She was a prodigy who finished eighth grade at the age of 10, but because her hometown did not allow Black people to attend high school there, her father relocated the entire family to Institute, West Virginia.

After finishing high school, she enrolled at West Virginia State College (now University), where she met a professor who steered her onto the path of mathematical research. At 18 years of age, she graduated summa cum laude with that degree. That was fortunate for all of mankind because Johnson became one of the inspirations for the movie Hidden Figures about the women responsible for the calculations that made it possible for humans to reach the moon.

Takuo Aoyagi

Born: February 14, 1936. Died: April 18, 2020.

There’s no real reason that any American outside academia should recognize the name of this Japanese-born engineer, but anybody who has ever had their vitals taken in a medical setting is familiar with his work. It was his research and innovations that led to the creation of the “modern pulse oximeter,” the clip that goes on one’s finger to measure blood oxygen levels. In 2020 amidst the COVID pandemic, the technology has been critical to patient diagnosis and care.

There are many more people who passed away this year who had an impact on people’s lives, such as doctors, teachers, athletes, artists, and musicians, but it would literally take a book to honor them all. Every life lost this year, regardless of fame or fortune, had an appreciable impact on the lives of people around them. May we take valuable lessons from our memories of them.

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