Belle Isle memorial set to display 900 of 1,500 Detroiters lost to COVID-19

DETROIT – The city of Detroit is set to unveil a memorial on Belle Isle displaying the pictures of 900 of the 1,500 Detroiters lost to coronavirus.

The city was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus in March and April. As of Aug. 30, the Detroit Health Department reports 13,625 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,511 deaths related to the disease since March.

Denice Chandler lost her husband and father to COVID-19.

“He had just an amazing smile, just an amazing individual,” Chandler said. “I mean, he had a heart for people. He truly would give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it.”

Chandler carries her husband’s ashes and his photo around her neck.

“It’s been a long journey. It’s been a long road,” Chandler said. “We’re nearing six months that has been gone and it’s just so hard to believe that he’s not here in the long run.”

Richard died less than 24 hours after she helped him into a wheelchair at the door of a hospital emergency room. Chandler, and the couple’s eight children, never had a chance to say goodbye.

“I would have never thought when I dropped him off at the hospital that it would have been the last time that I will see my husband,” Chandler said.

Richard, along with her father, will be remembered Monday as a part of a powerful memorial on Belle Isle in which 14 funeral processions are set to drive past nearly 900 photos of loved ones lost to COVID-19.

“I will forever keep this memory of what the city has done for all of our families,” Chandler said. “Just to commemorate the lives of all of these people that are here and just to have my husband among the people that were affected.”

Each photo is a somber reminder of loved ones lost too soon.

“I’m just eternally grateful for them. This is just really breathtaking,” Chandler said. “It just makes your heart hurt to see all of the lives and so many families that have been affected by this virus. It’s just remarkable to see the city recognize all of them and the impact that they’ve made and, not only in our lives, but into the lives of communities.”

Belle Isle will be closed to the public so families who lost loved ones can drive through. It will be open to the public Tuesday and Wednesday.

The event will be streamed live here on

About the Authors: