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Remembering former TV news producer Clifford Feldman, lost to COVID

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Over the past year and a half, we've been remembering some of the hundreds of thousands of people who've died in the U.S. after contracting COVID-19, and we have asked you to share with us the stories of those you've lost to the virus.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Today we remember Clifford Feldman, a former TV news producer who lived in Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Buffalo, then went to Ohio State University, where he met his future wife, Susan.

SUSAN FELDMAN: We were best friends, but we weren't. We were more than that. You know, he wasn't - he was my soulmate, or I was his soulmate. But we weren't. I mean, it was always deeper than that. And I hate all of those commonplace terms that people use. But we somehow had this instant connection that was lifelong.

SHAPIRO: His father wanted him to be an accountant, but Feldman's knack for writing and eye for photos took him in a different direction. He started off in local TV, where he worked both in front of and behind the camera. One of his early assignments was the Kent State shootings in 1970. It was tough but rewarding work for Feldman.

FELDMAN: It was something that gratified him, and it was something that made him wanting to get up every morning and do something. I think that first experience affected his entire life.

FADEL: His work in Cleveland won him national recognition. Eventually, he moved on to work for NBC and CBS in Washington, D.C., throughout the '80s and '90s.

SHAPIRO: Feldman's favorite job may have been his last one. He oversaw production at NASA TV. He thought he was going to wind down his career there but wound up staying nearly 20 years.

FELDMAN: He found each person he worked with talented. He found the science of NASA fascinating. He always raised his hand to be, you know, a civilian in space.

SHAPIRO: Clifford Feldman never did go to space. He did lead NASA's total solar eclipse broadcast. That earned him the Exceptional Public Service Medal, one of NASA's highest civilian awards.

FADEL: Despite being extremely careful for months during the pandemic, Clifford and Susan Feldman caught COVID late last year. Susan eventually recovered. Clifford died in January, just weeks before he would have been able to get a vaccine.

SHAPIRO: Even given the tragic timing of her late husband's death, Susan Feldman knows she's hardly alone in mourning the loss of a loved one to COVID-19.

FELDMAN: You know, there's almost 700,000 people who have died. My son and I went down to the flags at the Washington Monument last weekend. You know, seeing those sea of flags, each one of those flags represents somebody else's pain, somebody else's loss. So even though my loss is so huge and my children's loss is so huge, everybody else has had a similar sort of event.

FADEL: Clifford Feldman died on January 14 of this year. He was 73.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID BOWIE SONG, "SPACE ODDITY")

SHAPIRO: If you'd like us to memorialize a loved one you've lost to COVID-19, find us on Twitter at @NPRATC. There's a pinned tweet right at the top.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID BOWIE SONG, "SPACE ODDITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.