Eye on KELOLAND: A sister gone too soon


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Christy Hepburn from Canton, South Dakota, desribes her sister, Pamela Partee, as a hysterically funny, animal-loving person with a zest for life.

“I will remember her for always being positive, not looking at her health, but she actually was a very caring, loving person. She never thought of herself. Even if she was tired, she would go help other people,” Hepburn said.

Partee, a single mom and grandma, passed away from COVID-19 on October 27th at the age of 55.

“She had ended up in the hospital just like within three days she had gotten positive result and then within a week she was gone. So it was very rapid, very rapid. There was no time, really,” Hepburn said.

Though it’s always difficult to lose a loved one, for Hepburn there was even more of a sting to it because she never actually met her sister in person.

“I was getting to know my sister. Just starting to get to know her, communicating with her, and really finding out about her and then this happened. We were scheduled to actually meet for the first time in like February. So, it was like, I got to talk to her, but I never had actually physically visited her and so that was taken from both of us,” Hepburn said.

Hepburn and Partee were both born in Iowa, but as children were split up after being put into foster care. Three years ago, they found out about one another. Partee lived in Florida.

“It’s a missing piece because even though I was able to talk to her, I was not physically around her, so it’s like I’m still missing that link, that missing piece,” Hepburn said.

A piece of the family puzzle, gone.

“We didn’t get a funeral because she had requested to be cremated, but even then, they would not allow me to have any of her ashes, or my mom in Iowa, just because she had COVID and they did not want the ashes to be on the airplane. And I did not know that, but they’re like, no, we cannot allow that because of her having COVID,” Hepburn said.

Though they never met, Partee still had a big impact on Hepburn.

“She was one of those people that you could walk into a room and if you had such a terrible day, she would lift your spirits up. I mean, she’d just make you laugh and make you smile and you forget about it,” Hepburn said.

Now she wants to share her sister’s story to remind everyone she is more than a number.

“I want people to know about the person and not like this terrible thing that’s going around, this pandemic, this virus. I mean, if we spend so much energy and time focusing on the negative, we’re not going to get through this,” Hepburn said.

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