HOUSTON – The year 2020 was a hard one for all of us, and one of the hardest things is saying good-bye.
So as we say good-bye to 2020, here’s a look at some of the prominent Houstonians and Texans we lost this year and a little about each one of them and their impact. The list is in alphabetical order.
Houstonian or Houston ties:
HFD Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce, 44, was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect while investigating a string of arsons in northwest Houston in October. Here’s more on his life and death.
Richard “Rich” Connelly, a longtime former staff writer and columnist for the Houston Press, died Tuesday at his Houston home after a several years long battle with cancer, his wife Bobette Riner by his side.
Beloved ABC13 KTRK photojournalist Willie Dixon died in April at the age of 52.
Floyd, who died while being detained by Minneapolis, Minnesota, police on Memorial Day, was a native of Houston’s Third Ward. He was buried in Houston in July. His death at the hands of police touched off protests across the country. Read a timeline of events.
Rev. Vickey Gibbs:
Rev. Vickey Gibbs, an activist and associate pastor at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in Houston died in July at the age of 57.
Vanessa Guillen, 20, of Houston, disappeared April 22 from the parking lot of her regimental engineer squadron headquarters at Fort Hood. Her remains were found more than two months later near the Leon River in Bell County.
Investigators said an Army specialist and killed and dismembered Guillen. The specialist killed himself as officers moved in on him.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, is accused of helping the specialist dispose of Guillen’s body in some nearby woods.
Guillen’s family continues to fight for further investigations into her death and are working for legislation in Congress.
Charlotte Han Sharp, the wife of Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp, died Tuesday at her home in College Station after a lengthy illness. She was 67.
Houston builder Gerald D. Hines was known for his commitment to architectural excellence, superior engineering and integrity. Hines died in August at the age of 95.
Longtime KPRC 2 family member, beloved photojournalist Wendel Johnson died in May at the age of 62.
Rabbi Samuel Karff died in August at the age of 88. He served as Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel as well as being a part of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston.
Jason Knox is the Houston Police Department officer who died in a helicopter crash in May in north Houston. Knox, 35, was the tactical flight officer who died at the hospital following the crash. Knox joined the department in June 2012, officials said. He was assigned to the Midwest Patrol Division and the Office of Public Affairs before joining the Air & Marine Division in January 2019, according to HPD. For more on his life and career, go here.
A Houston nurse struck and killed in July by a vehicle near Hermann Park is remembered for his infectious personality. Read more about his life and legacy here.
Leal died in November at the age of 60, according to HPD. He served as an HPD officer since August 1984, serving more than three decades with the North Patrol Division. He also worked in the Northeast Patrol Division and briefly in the Jail Division. Here’s more on his life and career.
The renowned art dealer died in June in Houston at the age of 92.
Houston restaurateur Vincent Mandola died at the age of 77. Mandola was the owner of five restaurants in the Houston area, including Nino’s, Vincent’s and Grappino di Nino, three Italian restaurants located on the same property.
The popular Bollywood radio DJ Arif Memon was killed in a crash in May. For more on his life and legacy, read here.
The Marine with Houston ties died in April at the age of 43 of coronavirus.
Pacheco, 50, died from complications related to COVID-19. Pacheco was a 17-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department. He was assigned to station 101 in Kingwood.
The Houston-born performer died in March at the age of 81. He is best known for such hits as “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream.”
Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Caleb Rule was shot and killed in a friendly-fire incident while responding to a call. Here’s more on his career and the case.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski died in early May after contracting the coronavirus. Here’s more on his life and remembrances.
Capt. Tommy Searcy, an 18-year Houston Fire Department veteran, died in September after battling coronavirus for weeks. He was 45 years old.
Houston restaurateur and chef Tony Vallone died in September. The restaurant said Vallone died peacefully of natural causes. He was 75. Vallone was the founder of the restaurant Tony’s in Greenway Plaza and Tony’s Catering.
Houston Astros legend Bob Watson died at the age of 74 in May. Here’s more on his life and career.