George “Skip” Panse died Wednesday of complications from the coronavirus. He was a beloved member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida.
“It is tough to know that Florida's death toll from the Coronavirus has climbed to 23 and one of them is a dear man I knew,” Mark Kent, executive director of the Chorus wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “I am usually not public about personal pain, but I share this in the hope that it helps more people take this epidemic seriously. Please stay home and stay safe. My prayers for Skip's loved ones.”
Panse was a regular attendee of the United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale. Patrick Rogers, senior pastor of the church, fondly remembered him.
“As we all know, Skip had a great passion for music and he was fed spiritually by our music ministry,” he said. “And we will never forget Skip's love for others and our community. Rest in Peace Brother, we know that you will always watch over us. We miss you already so very much."
About a year ago, Rogers recalled, he attended a Chorus concert where Panse sang a duet with another choir member.
It was a moment that continues to stand out in Rogers’ mind.
“It was such a blessing to witness Skip share his gift with so many,” he said. “I will never forget that presentation.”
Many others on Facebook remembered Panse as well.
“It just seems so surreal how I just saw him shy three weeks ago and he was just being the vibrant, high-spirited guy that he always was, every time I saw Skip he greeted me with a warm welcome and hug, we will definitely miss him,” Rodrick Minnis wrote. “People this is so real, we really need to take care of ourselves in these difficult times, and social distancing is key...Fly high with the angels my friend.”