This obituary is part of “We Will Remember,” a series about those we’ve lost to the coronavirus.
Gina Liano had an infectious smile and lived to love those around her.
Liano, 69, of Shelby Township, died April 8 of COVID-19 complications at Beaumont Hospital, Troy.
Born in Guardia Piemontese, Italy, Liano moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, when she was 2 and lived there until she was 21. After a short time in California, her family moved to Detroit, where she worked at Hudson’s and Chrysler before retiring from jobs at Farmer Jack/Kroger after 30 years.
Liano had a bubbly personality, and her laugh could be heard from across the gym or field, according to daughter Christina Willson, who recalled that Liano attended every game, play and concert involving grandchildren. They always knew she was there, Willson said.
She loved to garden, make flower arrangements and watch QVC and HGTV, her daughter said, but her favorite hobby was being with her grandchildren.
Liano often referred to people as “Cutie Pie” or “Baby Cakes,” Willson said, noting that her mother gave amazing hugs and always made others feel as if they were the most important person in the world.
Liano’s routine included visiting and helping an elderly woman named Rosa a few times a week after Rosa’s husband of 72 years died. Rosa was from the same town in Italy as Liano’s grandparents.
Rosa’s family threw her a birthday party in February, and soon after the party, several of Rosa’s guests were hospitalized with COVID-19, Willson said.
“No one told my mother,” Willson said. “She continued to take care of Rosa. Once my mom started feeling sick, she stopped seeing Rosa.”
Liano and Rosa both thought they had colds.
Liano, who wasn’t vaccinated but had made an appointment to get the vaccine a week before getting sick, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and fought hard at home for four days before being admitted to the hospital.
Rosa was admitted to the same hospital two days later and died alone a week later.
Liano was eventually moved to intensive care.
“I saw her on the iPad eight to 10 hours a day. Once they lifted her isolation, I was able to see her for 15 minutes,” Willson said.
Two days before Liano was admitted to the hospital, Willson’s husband was discharged from the hospital after receiving a new kidney.
“She forbade me from coming to the hospital because she wanted to keep him safe,” Willson said.
“She always thought of other people.”
Willson told her mother that she wanted to visit so that she could give her a quick hug and help her find some misplaced items. When she left, she promised Liano that she would see her soon.
The hospital stopped allowing visitors the next day, and Liano was put on a ventilator March 30.
“I saw her once while she was on the vent. She died on April 8,” Wilson said.
Liano is survived by her daughter Christina (Ellis) Willson; grandchildren Samantha and Parker, and siblings Carmen (Giuseppe) Tundo and Anna Maria.
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Brendel Hightower is an assistant editor at the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at [email protected]