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COVID-19 kills firefighter and beloved dad of 6

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Rodney Heard, who spent 22 years as a firefighter in St. Louis, died on June 15.

More than 605,000 Americans and counting have died from COVID-19.

Each week ABC News is spotlighting several Americans who have died from the virus.

Nelson Cheng

Nelson Cheng moved to the United States in 1978 with a dream to own a business, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. Cheng bought a Carvel ice cream shop in New Jersey 11 years later.

Cheng was devoted to his work and “nothing pleased him more than to see his regular customers day in and day out,” his obituary said.

He also served as a father figure and mentor to many of his young employees, NJ.com reported.

Cheng died on Feb. 10, 2021 at the age of 67.

One woman who worked at Cheng’s shop from 1998 to 2005 has purchased the store in the wake of his death to keep his dream alive, NJ.com said.

“I think the community just needed someone to be here who knew him and loved him and respected him,” she told the newspaper.

Cheng is survived by his wife of 43 years and his two children.

Jesus Collazos

Jesus Collazos was a 67-year-old retired postal worker and a grandfather of three, reported WDVM-TV in Maryland.

Collazos, a native of Colombia, was a mail carrier in Arlington, Virginia, for about 25 years, The Washington Post reported.

Collazos was well known in the community served, and as he battled COVID-19, residents put gifts, cards and a banner outside his home with hundreds of messages, according to WDVM.

“He was a staple in the community,” his son, Michael Collazos, told the Post. “If anybody needed anything, they knew to go to my dad.”

He died on June 6, 2020, about one year after retiring, the Post reported.

Rodney Heard

Rodney Heard, who spent 22 years as a firefighter in St. Louis, died on June 15, 2021, The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

The St. Louis native was a man of faith and took his Bible to work with him, a son told St. Louis station KTVI. 

The 56-year-old leaves behind a wife, six children and 29 grandchildren. He also treated his nieces and nephews as if they were his own, the newspaper reported.

“He was like a dad to me,” nephew Brandon Jackson told the newspaper. “He taught me how to drive, how life goes, how to succeed.”

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