Lonnie Dench — the husband of the Arizona grandmother whose story of accidentally inviting a stranger to their 2016 Thanksgiving dinner went viral — has passed away after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Wednesday, Arizona’s Family reporter Briana Whitney wrote that Wanda Dench’s spouse “passed away from coronavirus.”
Following the tragic news, Wanda sent the outlet a text, remembering her husband as a "hero" who "had the truest heart of love, like no other."
"He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about," she added. "He was my hero. And I'm a better person because of him."
After retweeting Whitney’s story, Jamal Hinton — the young man who accepted the mistaken invite, and who publicly announced Wanda and Lonnie’s coronavirus diagnosis last week — confirmed that the grandfather had passed away on Sunday morning.
In his April 1 tweet, Hinton added that Lonnie had been hospitalized as he battled pneumonia.
Despite the heartbreaking news, Hinton relayed Wanda’s message that Lonnie was grateful for all the love and support he received.
As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it... he passed away Sunday morning😔 but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!🙏🏽❤️ https://t.co/tNvals0FMh— Jamal Hinton (@kingjamal08) April 9, 2020
Adding that “Wanda is not sick,” Hinton wrote a message to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, demanding that the state do more to fight the pandemic.
Hinton also paid tribute to Lonnie by posting a touching video of them and Wanda enjoying an outdoor meal.
“We miss you Lonnie,” Hinton exclaimed.
After their first Thanksgiving meal in 2016, Hinton and the Dench family have spent the holiday together ever since.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wanda and her family.