GREELEY, Colo. — A grieving Greeley family is urging people to take COVID-19 seriously and wear masks when outside their homes.
May Bunjes, 71, died from the coronavirus on Thursday.
The longtime Greeley resident had undergone a lung transplant in June of 2019, and was apparently more susceptible to the virus.
Family members said that's why May always wore a mask, but she still contracted the coronavirus because others in her community chose not to.
"We were shocked when we were told she had COVID," said daughter Jeanette Strumpf.
Strumpf said that her mom began feeling ill Oct. 27, and when she failed to improve at a local hospital, they flew her to Arizona, so her transplant doctors could take care of her.
But they couldn't save her.
"I had to tell my mom goodbye over a phone using FaceTime, and it's not fair," said daughter Jaime Bunjes. "I'm so angry."
Jeanette said the family just wants people to wear masks.
They said too many people don't take COVID-19 seriously.
"We had one of my mom’s dearest friends say that her pastor said that it was a hoax," Strumpf said.
The Bunjes family knows it's not a hoax.
May's husband, Fred Bunjes, said he misses her dearly.
He said when he sees people without masks at the store, he tries to avoid them.
"If I see somebody in the aisle that isn't wearing a mask, I'll go down another aisle and wait until they're out of that area," he said.
Family members are critical of Weld County government for its refusal to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.
"They're cowards for their false leadership, in our minds," Strumpf said.
"When I see people talking down about wearing a mask, or not wearing a mask in public, I just feel like ... is that what this world is coming to? It's all about me, me, me. Not about you and me," Jaime said.
May was the love of Fred's life. They delivered Meals on Wheels together.
She served as a special court-appointed advocate for abused children, sat on the board of Habitat for Humanity, and helped build homes with Jimmy and Roslynn Carter.
"She would go down and translate for Hispanic people trying to get their first home. She sat on the board for the Cancer Society, played Mrs. Claus, and would beat the street to get items for a silent auction," Jeanette said.
Jaime described her mom as a "bright light" who loved the Denver Broncos.
"She would even call people from my junior high, that I don’t even speak with, to sing happy birthday," she said.
Many of those people are now sending messages to Jaime.
"People have reached out to me on Facebook and said how special mom had made them feel, and that you didn’t have to be in her presence to know you were loved," she said.
The family, who said they are Republican, said this isn't a "red or blue issue. It's an American issue."
They want people to wear masks.
"If it would save one person’s life, I’d wear this mask every time I went out, for the rest of my life," Jeanette said.