Lonnie Dench, the husband of the woman who invited a stranger to Thanksgiving and celebrated with him every year since, has died from coronavirus.
The world met Wanda and Lonnie Dench when the Arizona grandma accidentally texted 17-year-old Jamal Hinton an invite to Thanksgiving at her house in 2016.
After Jamal pointed out Wanda’s mistake, he asked if he could still join. Wanda didn’t hesitate, texting back: “Of course you can, that’s what grandmas do, feed everyone." The new friends sat down and shared their meal together for the first time in 2016, and the tradition has continued ever since.
"We told him he's invited every year and I will reach out every time. He said he'd love to come," Dench told InsideEdition.com at the time. "He is our extended adopted grandson."
Last year, Hinton and his girlfriend, Makaela, hosted the Denches at their feast.
“Wanda has always been extremely [kind] to me and my girlfriend and we’ve become really good friends, especially over this last year,” Hinton told InsideEdition.com in 2019. “Whenever we [hang out] we have a great time catching up and we end up talking for hours about our lives, experiences and how our story has affected so many people, which I think has kept us so close.”
Lonnie recently got sick with COVID-19, and Hinton asked Twitter to send love to his adopted grandparents.
Tragically, Lonnie lost his battle with the virus on Sunday, Hinton wrote, but "Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face."
Tributes to the kind man who opened his home to a stranger for the holidays have continued to pour in, as have condolences for Wanda. The couple represent the good that can come when we open our hearts—a message we need now more than ever.