Three Michigan men, all community servants, die from coronavirus

Two police officers and one social entrepreneur succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving those that they've touched bereaved

Michigan Men
Commander Donafay Collins (personal picture), Capt. Jonathan Parnell (screenshot), Marlowe Stoudamire (instagram)

Three men from the Great Lakes State have succumbed to the dreaded coronavirus. All community servants dedicating their lives to the support of those in need, their legacy is rooted in the lives that they touched.

Marlowe Stoudamire, 43, of Detroit had no underlying health issues and hadn’t traveled anywhere recently, yet he died Tuesday from complications related to COVID-19.

“An amazing man, husband, friend and one of the best dads that I have ever met lost his life to COVID-19 today,” Bob Riney, Henry Ford Health System COO, told The Detroit News. Riney, a good friend and former colleague of Stoudamire’s, spoke on behalf of the family. “My wife and I are heartbroken for this devastating loss. We will continue the fight of this terrible pandemic in his honor.”

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Stoudamire had a personality as big as the city he loved and personified. He worked as an entrepreneur and created “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward,” a Detroit Historical Society project that was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Detroit uprising a few years ago. The project won the National Medal for Museum and Library Science in 2018.

Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, said Stoudamire formerly worked as chief of staff for the foundation and it was clear how much he loved Detroit.

“As a lifelong Detroiter, he had a special skill at telling our stories— from Detroit’s 1967 rebellion to those of the amazing women and men who populated Roster Detroit,” Allen told The Detroit News. “He had a unique ability to bring people together, curating talent and energy to help us all envision a different future together.”

Marlowe Stoudamire

Photo of Marlowe Stoudamire from his personal Instagram

Riney said hospital officials are deeply saddened at Stoudamire’s passing and are even more committed to getting the word out about the potentially deadly coronavirus.

“I would tell the public that diseases like COVID-19 are affecting all segments of the population and that the social distancing that some find a nuisance they should consider an obligation,” Riney told the newspaper. “We as a society can go on pause for a short period in order to make sure that we break this cycle.”

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Captain Jonathan Parnell, another Detroit resident, also lost his life to the COVID-19 disease, further proving that the pandemic does not discriminate.

According to Deadline Detroit, Parnell was a 31-year public servant working as a career officer. Nicknamed “Recon,” he was in charge of the homicide unit based out of headquarters— before then serving in sex crimes, child abuse, and narcotics.

A co-worker said that Parnell was “a great guy, very tactical, very smart, he was a street cop, a real street cop, very polite, very humble.”

During a news conference on Wednesday, another colleague shared remarks, summing up what many in the Motor Town are feeling. While reflecting on his career, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said that as a leader Parnell “contributed more to this department” than he could ever articulate.

Craig could not find the words, but Parnell’s son Jonathan Parnell II, 25, did: “He was hardworking, well respected, I’m sure everyone would describe him that way… [he] was a role model. One of a kind I’d say.”

Parnell was in his fifties and leaves behind three sons.

And because the old folks always say that death comes in threes, regretfully it has been reported that Commander Donafay Collins, 63, member of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, has also died on Wednesday from the disease. He too has had an over 30-year career in law enforcement.

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Collins had a full life, working as a DJ on a local radio station 92.3 FM.

Like the other men, he also leaves behind a family to mourn.

Collins’ wife and four children will remember him fondly, as well as the thousands of people that he touched.


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