One of the most heartwarming viral stories in the past few years has, sadly, begun a heartbreaking chapter.

The husband of Wanda Dench—the grandmother who gained nationwide attention after texting and inviting a teen she believed to be her grandson to Thanksgiving—has died of coronavirus complications.

Lonnie Dench passed away on Sunday (Apr. 5) after battling COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Wanda honored her husband in a statement to local news outlet Arizona’s Family:

“He had the truest heart of love, like no other. He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.”

Jamal Hinton—the man who has bonded with the Denches after Wanda accidentally invited him to Thanksgiving dinner—shared the sad news of Lonnie’s passing on Twitter on Wednesday (Apr. 8).

“As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it,” he wrote.

“But Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!”

Hinton was also the first to share that Wanda and Lonnie were both battling COVID-19, noting that Wanda was unable to see her husband because he was hospitalized and she was recovering at home.

“I am so sad to announce that Wanda and Lonnie both have COVID-19 and that Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting both COVID and Pneumonia,” he tweeted in early April. “Please send words of love and encouragement their way.”

However, on Wednesday he informed his followers that “Wanda is not sick.”

It’s unclear if she’s asymptomatic, recovered, or was never diagnosed with COVID-19.

Hinton (along with his girlfriend and family members) have spent Thanksgiving with Lonnie and Wanda every year since 2016 and the texting mishap. He and his girlfriend have even gone on double dates with the Denches.

Their story touched the entire nation and continues to do so. It’s a heartbreaking loss and our thoughts are with Wanda and her family, and Hinton.

“RIP Lonnie” even trended on Twitter as others shared their condolences.

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