‘There’s a big hole in our lives’: Remembering those lost locally to COVID-19

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The country is marking another grim milestone this week in the coronavirus pandemic: 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths and counting.

More than 660 of those deaths have happened in the Coastal Health District’s eight counties, with Glynn and Chatham counties leading the list.

From champions of nonprofits to public servants who rose to fame on the county commission, the pandemic has shown all Georgians how devastating it can be. The entire state is mourning nearly 14,690 people who have died statewide.

The death toll is higher than the populations of Port Wentworth, Skidaway Island and Bloomingdale, according to data from the 2010 census.

One of the people who lost his life in Chatham County was Johnny Baker, the co-owner of Bar Food and Coffee Deli. Paula Letcher was his business partner.

“We’re obviously quite sad, because there’s a big hole in our lives,” she said.

Baker died in October after a three-week fight with COVID-19, alone and in the hospital.

“He’s quite a loss, I must say, for the community and especially for me, but he would want me to go forward,” said Letcher.


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A painting she commissioned now sits as a memorial in the corner where Baker enjoyed watching sports on TVs inside the bar. Letcher says it is a perfect representation of the man she calls “larger than life.”

He was one who loved pink, his mother, his boat and a good glass of rose.

“I have my moments where I just kind of have to take a walk around the block and think…but he’s on my shoulder constantly,” said Letcher. “He really is because he was the formidable force between the two of us.”

More specifically, she remembers Baker as the face of the restaurant. The painting makes sure he still is, even four months after his death.

Bar Food says staff members take every precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including offering takeout and outdoor seating. It also frequently sanitizes.

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