First LDS missionary known to have died of COVID-19 was a beloved Utah teacher

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Allen Dee Pace, age 68 of Willard, Utah, has died of the coronavirus. Pace was serving a senior mission with his wife, Nedra, in Detroit when he became ill.

The first missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints known to have died of the coronavirus is Allen Dee Pace, from Willard, Utah.

Pace, who went by Dee, contracted COVID-19 while serving a senior mission in the Detroit area. He was a much-appreciated retired theater teacher at Bear River High School in Garland.

He died Saturday at age 68 after battling the virus for weeks, the last three in an intensive care unit. He was being looked after by his wife, Nedra, and one of his daughters.

Dee and Nedra Pace started their senior missionary service in December 2019. Pace and his wife had not yet been formally released from that service before his death.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Elder Pace as they mourn his passing,” church spokesman Daniel Woodruff said in a news release, “and we continue to pray for all who are impacted by this pandemic.”

Among the remembrances of Pace left of Nedra’s Facebook page was one from Hyte Johnson, who wrote, “You have lifted the downtrodden, comforted the weary and brought light and goodness where before there was none. You have helped generations love the arts and to think deeply. Your work has inspired souls and sent inspiration further through souls like ripples on the waters ever expanding.”

Johnson signed his remembrance, “with everlasting affection, our cast and crew.”

One of his six daughters, Mikey Larson, wrote on Facebook: “His world was his family, theater, the LDS Church, and almost every other art form and food imaginable. He lived his life with passion and joy, and those who met him loved him and never forgot him.”

And she added, “His family was virtually present and sang to him as he peacefully passed. There will not be a funeral at this time. We will be holding a celebration of his life after the regulations surrounding COVID-19 are lifted.”