Memorial honoring local lives lost to COVID-19 unveiled in Kern County

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A memorial honoring local residents who lost their lives to COVID-19 was unveiled Wednesday morning in Kern County.

The memorial, located in front of American Fabrication at 4940 Gilmore Ave. in Rosedale, includes 108 names of men and women who lost their battles with COVID-19 over the last year.

Hundreds of community members and relatives of loved ones who succumbed to the virus attended the special dedication Wednesday. American Fabrication Owner Kevin Russell and his employees created the three-wall structure after months of planning and hard work.

“It made me feel good inside. This is giving something back,” Russell said. “They’ll always be remembered. And that to me, is more than anything.”

Zelma Frankhouser attended the dedication ceremony to pay tribute to her late husband, William Edward Frankhouser Sr. A Vietnam War veteran, Frankhouser Sr. succumbed to the virus just a few months ago.

“He was just a wonderful, giving man that never lost his temper. Our kids say we never fought. He was very loving and he loved everybody,” Frankhouser said.

The family of the late Billy Uribe brought their patriarch’s picture to the unveiling ceremony.

“I will truly miss him,” said Billy’s widow Carol Flores Uribe as she carried her late husband’s picture in hand. “He was the center of our family.”

Grammy Award-winning singer Gregory Porter took part in song to remembering his late brother Lloyd.

“[He was] an extraordinary person full of life. We lost him to the pandemic. Very sorry for that,” Porter said.

With the sadness also came gratitude. The sisters of Ernesto Neto Aguilar were grateful their late brother will forever enshrined on the memorial.

“It just brings a lot of comfort for us,” said Norma Aguilar. “Gives us peace in our heart.”

As of Tuesday, there have been 1,376 souls in Kern who lost their lives to COVID. If you would like the name of your loved one on the memorial, you are asked to email Michelle Bettis at {M-J-L} Mjlbettis@gmail.com.

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