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In masks and gowns, family sang goodbye to Covid-19 victim

As confirmed Covid-19 cases multiplied at the Father Baker Manor nursing home in Orchard Park, Grace D'Angelo Tutton's first test for the deadly virus came back negative.

That was on April 4. Two days later, Tutton had a fever and the following day her doctor reported she tested positive for Covid-19, said daughter Judy Manchester-Vassie.

The 93-year-old's condition deteriorated quickly. When her family asked for a chance to say goodbye, the home arranged for them to meet from a safe distance.

Tutton's relatives on April 8 gathered on the sidewalk garbed in masks, gloves and gowns. Staff wheeled her just outside, hooked up to oxygen and covered in blankets for warmth.

They sang "Hey Good Lookin' " to her, a family tradition at birthdays. "We were hoping she would hear this," Manchester-Vassie said. "We don't know."

By the next morning, Tutton had died at the nursing home, where 25 staff and more than 40 residents tested positive for the virus.

She had moved into Father Baker Manor in December, after living for about eight years in the Embark at Orchard Glen senior apartments with her second husband, Duncan Tutton, who died last August.

The Kenmore High School sweethearts reconnected at a reunion about 30 years ago, Manchester-Vassie said.

Born Grace Woodall Smith, Tutton studied nursing at Buffalo General Hospital, where she later worked. She and her first husband, the late Dr. Joseph D'Angelo, raised five children in Orchard Park, where she was popular with neighborhood kids.

"They called her 'Mrs. D,' or 'the kissing grandma,' " Manchester-Vassie said.

After her children had grown, Tutton earned a nursing degree at Trocaire College and worked at Our Lady of Victory Hospital.

Divorced from her first husband, she moved to North Carolina around 1990 after marrying Tutton. She helped out at horse farms there and taught English to the children of migrant workers.

In this area, where the Tuttons returned around 2011, she was active with the Orchard Park Symphony, Hamburg Garden Club and the Orchard Park Community Church.

A great-great-grandmother, she enjoyed international travel, writing letters and playing Scrabble.

"She was the most generous person," Manchester-Vassie said.

The Buffalo News is publishing stories about people from Buffalo Niagara who have died due to Covid-19. Please contact The News at citydesk@buffnews.com if you know of someone whose story we should tell.

41 Father Baker Manor residents, 25 staff test positive for Covid-19

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