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Well-known Buffalo man dies of COVID-19, after virus ravages his family

The Shatzel family of Buffalo says Mark Williams, a fixture in the Elmwood Village, died of COVID-19 on Monday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Friends and family are remembering a Buffalo man whose family had already been ravaged by the coronavirus before he became infected and succumbed to the virus on Monday.

Kind, caring, and loving: Mark Williams was the kind of guy you wanted to be around.

"Just his aura, he was a big, giant teddy bear, and he'd just hug everybody. He's always smiling, and he's kind of known for yelling out 'whoop, whoop' all the time," said Mike Shatzel, a local restauranteur. 

Many in the Elmwood Village knew Mark by his nickname, Big Daddy. His personality filled the room.

"If you knew Elmwood, you knew Mark," Shatzel said.

Shatzel says the coronavirus has ravaged Mark's family. He says Mark's brother died of COVID-19 in November. Then Mark and his mother, Barbara, became infected.

"Mark went into ICU two weeks ago, and his mother has been in there for a couple weeks now, she's still battling it in the ICU, in a coma, on a ventilator," said Shatzel, who also points out that he was diagnosed with the coronavirus and recovered.

Shatzel says the two were just a couple rooms apart in Sister's Hospital.

On Monday, Mark passed away, leaving behind his 19-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.

"Devastation, it is grief that you can't imagine," said Suzanne Shatzel, who has started a Go Fund Me page to help cover medical costs and education costs for Mark's daughter. "He was kind to everyone he protected everyone and if we can give anything back to him to let him know how much we loved him is just to take care of his family."

The Shatzel's say Elizabeth has been incredibly strong. 

"She's currently enrolled at ECC, so we're going to use whatever is left over to give her a head start on her future by paying her tuition and her needs for school," Mike Shatzel said.

They're thinking of ways to make sure he's not forgotten. Mark was a fixture in Cole's and a lot of other local bars, usually working security. There is a chair in Cole's that he sat in every night, and the thinking is to take down a rugby player poster above it and put up a big poster of Mark to honor him.

And that's not all.

"We used to have a Big Daddy steak sandwich, so odds are I'll probably bring that back do a little ode to him in the description, so once that's on, I'll never take it off," Shatzel said.

The Go Fund Me has exceeded $50,000.

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