Former Springfield resident starts statewide photo memorial of COVID-19 victims, inspired by her mother’s battle

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:19 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:03 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On Thursday, Missouri recorded another record for new cases in the state at 2,084. The number of confirmed cases reached 48,834, while the state’s death toll reached 1,233.

You see those ever-increasing numbers every day.

But Angela Kender wants to put a face on those numbers by gathering a photo collection of those who have died in Missouri of COVID-19 and taking it to the capitol in Jefferson City to encourage legislators to do more in the fight against the pandemic.

“In the ideal world they would have conversations about putting state mandates in place instead of leaving it up to local governments to figure out and school districts to figure out,” she said.

Angela has a very personal reason for putting together the photo memorial.

Her mother died from COVID-19 earlier this year.

Dr. Gaye Griffin-Snyder, a former professor at Missouri State who also worked as a counselor at Cox, Burrell Mental Health and APO in Springfield, died on June 6 at the age of 71.

Known for her sense of humor and love of travel, the grandmother of two got COVID-19 at a nursing home in the St. Louis area and took a turn for the worse in the span of a day.

“I literally thought Tuesday she was going to make it and Wednesday I was horrified,” Angela said in describing the anguish of watching her mom fade so quickly. “You could see her chest thrusting to get air and there was this cough. It was hard to describe. But I will never forget it. It was very thick and deep. It was scary, very scary.”

But Angela, who grew up in Springfield and now lives in St. Louis, says the worst part was not being able to be with her mom when she needed her family the most.

“She had nurses but she was with strangers,” Angela said through tears. “She didn’t have anyone she knew with her. And I know so many of us who have lost someone to COVID feel that pain so deeply that our loved one died alone and it wasn’t safe for us to be there. It will probably haunt me my entire life.”

Angela admits that she is also haunted and upset by those who downplay the virus or refuse to wear masks. She even has a T-shirt now that says, “Where is your mask?”

“I also have friends and honestly family members who have said ‘I don’t want my rights infringed upon’,” she said. “It truly boggles my mind that something so simple is so hard when we already wear clothes and shoes to keep ourselves safe. Shouldn’t we care about others?”

Angela hopes to make the trip to Jefferson City with the memorial within the next two weeks.

If you’d like to share COVID victim photos for Angela’s memorial, you can send them to

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