Wanda Dench, the Arizona grandmother who garnered headlines in 2016 after she accidentally texted a stranger about Thanksgiving and then invited him to her Mesa home anyway, has lost her husband to the coronavirus.
Lonnie Dench died Sunday, days after the couple both contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the contagion.
Jamal Hinton, the teenager who Dench inadvertently invited to dinner (thinking it was her grandson) and who has spent every Thanksgiving since with the family, announced the sad news on Twitter Wednesday.
He said Wanda Dench “told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that.”
As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it... he passed away Sunday morning but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!️ https://t.co/tNvals0FMh— Jamal Hinton (@kingjamal08) April 9, 2020
“Also for those asking Wanda is not sick,” he added in a second post.
Also for those asking Wanda is not sick— Jamal Hinton (@kingjamal08) April 9, 2020
Dench paid tribute to her late husband in a statement to CBS-5.
“He had the truest heart of love, like no other,” she said. “He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.”
"He was my hero. I'm a better person because of him."— Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) April 9, 2020
For years I've covered the Thanksgiving story of Wanda & Jamal, & that mistaken text. Wanda's husband Lonnie was a beautiful part of that. Lonnie just passed away from COVID-19. We honor him tonight️https://t.co/uQKhTg9Tgppic.twitter.com/TJ0vu8REvj
People on Twitter also mourned for the family, whose act of kindness had become a heartwarming annual tradition:
Love you.— Tiffany J....
Thanksgiving will never be canceled.
RIP Lonnie. https://t.co/LjtkPgg0IP