One COVID-19 victim was a Korean War veteran and former director of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Another was a retired New Bedford firefighter and bus driver, who loved his grandchildren even more than his Harleys. And there was a young retail manager who “had such an amazing light” about her.

The lives lost during the second year of COVID-19 in Greater New Bedford were more than statistics in a compilation of health records. They lived and were loved. And they will be missed and remembered by those who knew them.

Anthony Morris Zane

Korean War vet, loved his Red Sox

Anthony Morris Zane was a 91-year-old Korean War veteran and a former director of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. He was fully vaccinated, but he got sick after visiting vaccinated friends in his hometown of Philadelphia, said his daughter Molly. 

It was fascinating to hear what other people thought of her father, she said.

“He just had such a great sense of humor,” said Molly. “He loved parties, loved people. He was very social. Very honest, very forthright. Just a good, good man.”

His interests ranged widely from classic and modern literature to the simple pleasures like summertime, his dogs, his boat and baseball.  

“He loved when the Red Sox started playing because he was convinced that he would never die [during] baseball season,” she said. “But he’s also the first to admit that that’s pure hubris.”

On June 11, 2021 — the same day that the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 — Anthony died at Vibra Hospital of Southeastern Massachusetts from COVID-19 pneumonia. 

“I think the most wonderful thing was we’d walk our dogs in Nonquitt together,” said Molly. “Sometimes we’d run into each other purely by chance. Other times we’d plan … There are lots of nice memories. He had a nice, nice life. … And he’d be the first to say that.”

Robert Russell Nobrega, 75

Retired firefighter

Among those lost this year was Robert Russell Nobrega, a 75-year-old school bus driver. According to his daughter Bethany Arguin, Robert cared deeply for his family, and loved to share his passion for motorcycles with his grandkids. 

“He was very strong. He was very protective. He kind of marched to the beat of his own drum sometimes … he had his own way of thinking,” said Arguin. “I think that he was someone that was always there to lend a helping hand. He would be there for you at a moment’s notice. He helped so many people all the time.”

As a 27-year veteran of the New Bedford Fire Department, Robert was honored at a memorial ceremony at Buttonwood Park. “As they ring their last bell, and then you get their helmet, and you present it, and you put it on top of the firefighter boots. It was really nice and touching,” said Arguin. 

Stacey Rose Gianpaolo, 21

‘Had an amazing light’

Stacey Rose Gianpoalo, 21, a manager at the North Dartmouth Target who moved to the area from New Jersey, was the youngest COVID-19 related death this year. She leaves behind her mother, three siblings and nieces and nephews. 

Ricky, a loved one who posted a tribute to Stacey on her online obituary, said she “had such an amazing light about [her].” He reminisced about the good times they had over the years.

Stacey’s sister, Krystal, wrote on her online obituary “As you grew up, we formed an unspeakable bond. I am so proud [of] everything you accomplished in your 21 years of life.”

Stacey died on January 4, 2022, at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Editor’s note: Information for this story was gathered by New Bedford Light correspondents India Claudy and Sawyer Smook-Pollit from interviews and information posted in online memorials.

Read more about those lost to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 in The Light’s virtual memorial.

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