One man’s tribute to his 87-year-old father, who recently passed away from COVID-19, is putting a face to the tragedy of the pandemic. Don Pijanowski of Buffalo, New York, died in the hospital on April 1, isolated from his loved ones due to quarantine requirements. His family is unable to hold a funeral for him because of social distancing orders from the state, but his son John shared his love for his father with the world via an incredibly touching Twitter thread.

Don Pijanowski, John writes, would not go down in history for any great achievement, but was still a great man because of who he was as a person.

“He was not great in the way we often try to define the term – he was great in that he was such a *good* man – good to his core, unfailingly good.”

Don was born during the Great Depression as the youngest of 10 children. In spite of hardships, he always seemed to remember his childhood fondly.

“As the youngest of ten children born during the Great Depression the stories of his childhood always seemed harsh, but he never told them that way,” said John. “Stories of his youth were always told with a warm sense of nostalgia and a twinkle in his eye.”

Echoing his mother’s drive to keep her family fed with little to spare, Don’s work ethic could only be described as “legendary.”

“He wasn’t a suit & tie guy, he was a green bar of lava soap guy. He had many jobs through the years (like wiring houses & steel manufacturing) & his career was ultimately building and later servicing huge industrial turbo compressors.”

But Don didn’t just work hard. He was also an honest man who took pride in doing quality work, once quitting his job as a house painter because his boss wanted him to cut corners.

“If my dad was doing a job for you then you knew he didn’t just do the parts he thought you could see, he did the entire job and he would not leave until it was done right.”

Don was also an avid sports lover, enjoying spots on company baseball teams and once hitting a  home run right out of the park and into a nearby house. Playing football with his kids was even better.

“The last time we played with a football he was 55 years old and he threw his age – a 55 yard strike on the fly to me running a post pattern,” John wrote.

Most importantly, John remembers how much his dad cared about people. Old friends have been sending the family messages about how much they loved Don and how welcome he made them feel in his home.

“Your dad let me sit at his table and be in his home when my home wasn’t always safe for me,” wrote one individual. “I’ll never forget that.”

The thread ends about as positively as it could considering the loss of such a wonderful human being.

“My dad was a great man because he left the world a better place for having been in it. He was an infinitely kind man with a sharp sense of humor who worked hard, played hard, and loved deeply. I will miss him every day of my life and be grateful I had the privilege to be his son.”

John’s tribute has gone viral after it was posted on the day of his father’s death, gaining over 65,000 likes and many supportive comments thanking John for sharing his dad’s story.

Rest in peace, Don.

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*First Published: April 7, 2020, 1:01 pm