Two East Coast relatives die from COVID-19 two days apart

FE Olegario-Pakula, a former elementary school teacher from Mangatarem, Pangasinan, passed away on April 5 from coronavirus complications at a nursing home facility in New York City.

Fe Olegario-Pakula with her husband Marian Pakula | Contributed photo

Olegario-Pakula, 81, is survived by her husband Marian Pakula, a Polish-American, and her younger brother, Dr. Eddie Olegario, a retired physician now based in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

She is remembered as a warm, caring, giving, jolly and loving person.

Due to the cause of her death, only her younger brother, Dr. Eddie Olegario who also  serves as a deacon, was personally on hand to attend the funeral services. Relatives from the U.S. and Canada witnessed the funeral via Zoom.

Olegario-Pakula was born on Oct. 21, 1938. Her parents were Fortunato, a former high school principal and Agripina Sevilla Olegario. She is the fourth child among seven children. She graduated from the Philippine Normal School.

Upon arrival in the United States in 1973, Olegario-Pakula studied nursing at Kings County Hospital Nursing School in Brooklyn New York. After two and a half years, she graduated and worked at Bellevue Hospital and then moved to a Veterans Hospital in New York.

She got married in 1988 to Marian Pakula. Marian and Fe traveled to Poland several times to visit his family.

Two days after Pakula’s death, her nephew, New Jersey-based  Renato Olegario Valdez, an insurance agent,  also died of COVID-19, after six days in ICU at the Community Medical Center in Toms River, New Jersey.

After visiting a client in New York City on March 31, he fell. He was rushed to the hospital but he passed away a week later. He was 69.

Renato Olegario Valdez with his wife Muriel. | Contributed photo

Fondly called Rene, Valdez graduated salutatorian from Mangatarem National High School in Pangasinan in 1967. He later obtained his B.S. degree in Commerce major in Banking & Finance from the University of the Philippines.

He became a branch manager of Philbanking in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. He is survived by his wife Muriel Valdez and their three children and three grandkids.

Valdez was born on Dec. 10, 1950 in Mangatarem, Pangasinan, Philippines to teachers Emiliano and Mercedes Olegario. He worked very diligently as a bank manager for PhilBanking in Laoag City for years and then went on to work as an insurance agent for over 25 years for New York Life in New York City.

Rene was a very devoted Christian and a proud member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) his entire life, where he performed his office of Head Deacon in his local congregation. Rene lived his life to the fullest through simple pleasures and always managed to look at the bright side of every situation he encountered in his life’s journey.

He was a loving and doting husband to Muriel, his wife of over 45 years and were by each other’s side until the end.

His family reveals that Rene was the most incredible father to his three children, Aizel, Marianne and husband Fernan, Rafael and wife Anne, and the most nurturing grandfather to his three grandchildren, Jason, Audrey, and Penelope. He was an avid tennis player and a loyal Knicks fan.

Valdez lived to take care of his family and to give them a happy life. He was a man full of humor with an infectious laugh, brightening any room he walked into.

He had an uncanny ability to reach people in a deep and positive way and impacted the lives of many. He was well-loved, a nice guy and will be missed by everyone, according to his friends who have known him through the years.

He was buried on April 11 at the Ocean County Memorial Park, Toms River, New Jersey. (By Dan E. Nino /

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