COVID-19 Victims’ Family Members Reflect On 1,000 Utah Deaths

Dec 10, 2020, 8:48 PM | Updated: 8:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A sobering and grim milestone in Utah Thursday. More than 1,000 people have now died from COVID-19, and Thursday it was announced that 21 lives were lost to the disease.

Several family members, like Kaye Lynn Kendall Balluff, reflected on the terrible toll COVID-19 has inflicted on the state. 

All it takes is a quick drive. Even if you speed by Balluff’s Millcreek home, you could tell right away she loves Christmas.

“Oh yeah, very much so,” she said with a smile.


Outsider her home are decorations, Christmas signs, and large shiny bulbs hanging from her tree. Inside are lit trees, decorations, and even pillows. It shows how much she enjoys this time of year, but she admitted this year is going to be different. 

Someone will be missed. 

“He was my brother. I loved him dearly,” she said. “I’ll still set a place for him at the table.”

Her brother, Mark Kendall, is one of the now 1,016 people in Utah who died from COVID-19. 

“Mark was number 20,” said Balluff.

However, to her, he was more than just a number. She doesn’t want to think of him as a sobering statistic.

“No, that was my brother,” she said. “He was my brother, and we were very close.”

One thousand. It is a milestone. Behind that number were fathers, mothers, children, and friends. People who mattered. 

People like Becky McKown, whose son still can’t believe she’s gone.

“It’s not something you expect to see because everyone says most people are fine and then you end up being the unlucky person where the worst possible thing happened,” said Aaron McKown of his mother. “She was only 65. She was pretty active. We would go hiking all the time.”

It’s always the little things we miss when a loved one passes away. 

That’s how Juliet Tuineau felt when she buried her husband Ray this summer when he died from coronavirus. 

“He always told me, ‘I knew the moment I saw it was you on our date that you were going to be my wife.’ I miss him,” said Tuineau.

The first Utahn to die from coronavirus was Robert Rose. He was 79-years old, and although his family misses him, his wife says she’s at peace with it all.

 “Looking at it from my husband’s point of view, he’d had four more surgeries, replacement of his hips and his knees. His back went out. And when he got COVID, you know what? I thought bless your heart. You’re through. You’re done. ‘Ye that are weary come home,’” said Connie Rose. 

She said her husband died within 36 hours of getting the virus. Because of that, she feels it was better than a long process such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or dying in a car crash. 

“That would’ve been worse,” she said. 

Rose also thinks instead of focusing on the one thousand who died from COVID-19, we should be looking at the tens of thousands who lived after getting the virus. 

“Every time I hear these reports like, 4,000 new COVID testing positive, and 14 of them died, I think, well 3986 lived. Let’s celebrate,” she said. 

Christmas should be a happy time. Normally, there should be celebrations. 

However, many families aren’t there yet and some aren’t sure if they ever will be.

“He’d be alive today if he hadn’t contracted COVID,” said Balluff. “Thank goodness there’s a vaccine coming. But it’s too late for my brother. And too late for the other deaths.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Utahns We’ve Lost

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

4 months ago

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...

Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.

2 years ago

(KSL TV)...

Matt Gephardt, KSL TV

COVID-19 funeral assistance available to reimburse funeral costs for families 

More Americans lose their lives to COVID-19 with each passing day. There is financial help from the federal government for families who lose loved ones to the virus, but most people are not getting it. 

2 years ago

(KSL TV)...

Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

COVID risk: Do department policies protect Utah law enforcement and the public?

COVID-19 has become the number one cause of line-of-duty deaths among U.S. law enforcement officers. KSL surveyed Utah law enforcement and took a hard look at how department policies across the state impact both police and the public.

3 years ago

Capt. Merrill Bone with the Unified Fire Authority. (UFA)...

Madison Swenson, KSL TV

Unified firefighter dies due to complications with COVID-19

An active-duty firefighter with the Unified Fire Authority has died "due to complications with COVID-19," according to the department.

3 years ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Jed Boal

Family Shares Legacy of Utah Veteran Advocate Who Died Of COVID-19

One year ago, as the pandemic intensified, COVID-19 claimed the life of one of Utah’s greatest advocates for military veterans. In an ironic twist, William E. Christoffersen died in the Salt Lake Veterans Nursing Home named in his honor.

3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

COVID-19 Victims’ Family Members Reflect On 1,000 Utah Deaths