George “Skip” Panse, a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus in South Florida, was busy greeting members with a smile and a big hug three weeks ago. Last Wednesday, he died of complications caused by coronavirus.
Panse has become a headline dreaded by all as the pandemic pelts the US. The nation has, within days, become a petri-dish of cases, hauling the highest amount of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
A church-goer known by loved ones for his sense of humour and passion for music, Panse’s death was confirmed Thursday by the executive director of the chorus on Facebook in a tearful post.
Loved ones mourn the loss of Gay Men’s Chorus singer George Panse who died from coronavirus.
“It is tough to know that Florida’s death toll from the Coronavirus has climbed to 23 and one of them is a dear man I knew and who was a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida,” Mark Kent wrote.
“We lost Skip to the virus yesterday.
I am usually not public about personal pain, but I share this in the hope that it helps more people take this epidemic seriously. Please stay home and stay safe.
“My prayers for Skip’s loved ones.”
Tributes poured in for Panse, a regular attendee of the United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale, as stunned church-goers, faith leaders and choir members regaled their favourite memories of him.
“As we all know, Skip had a great passion for music and he was fed spiritually by our music ministry,” senior pastor Patrick Rogers wrote on Facebook.
“And we will never forget Skip’s love for others and our community. Rest in Peace Brother, we know that you will always watch over us.
“We miss you already so very much.”
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Rogers recalled with fondness the time Panse duetted with another choir member at a concert – “It was such a blessing to witness Skip share his gift with so many, I will never forget that presentation.”
Choir member Bill Spinosa said Panse’s passing should remind everyone to take the viral outbreak rampaging the world seriously, NBC South Floridareported.
Every time you see a number, it’s someone’s mother. It’s someone’s father. Somebody’s brother.
Spinosa said: It’s amazing and because people are dying alone in hospitals in the ICU, it’s even more devastating because there’s nobody there to hold their hand.”
“It just seems so surreal how I just saw him shy three weeks ago and he was just being the vibrant, high-spirited guy that he always was, every time I saw Skip he greeted me with a warm welcome and hug, we will definitely miss him,” Rodrick Minnis wrote.
“People this is so real, we really need to take care of ourselves in these difficult times, and social distancing is key.
“Fly high with the angels my friend.”