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Edwin C. Schemelson

Dr. Schemelson was the former chairman of the Bakersfield (Kern County) Republican Central Committee. He was manager of Rep. Devin Nunes’ first Congressional campaign, and led Kern County For Trump in the 2016 Presidential election. Dr. Schemelson received his Ph.D in Divinity from Fresno State University and was chief usher of the Central Valley Apostolic Church of Christian Life. His most recent political activity had been to organize and lead the “Re-Open Kern County” demonstration, in which he questioned the reality of the coronavirus and said that stay-at-home orders were “a Democratic plot to hurt our great President Trump.” Dr. Schemelson was 66 years old.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

Pastor Cornelius “Sam” O’Connor

Pastor O’Connor was the much-beloved pastor of the Central Valley Apostolic Church of Christian Life, a post he held for more than 20 years. Pastor “Sam,” as he was known, was active in Fresno County Republican circles, having led prayer sessions for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, David Duke and Donald Trump. Pastor Sam’s last sermon, delivered before a mass congregation on Easter Sunday that included Edwin Schemelson, was entitled “Why the Lord Wants Us to Gather Together and Disbelieve This Lie from Satan About the Fake Conoravirus.” Pastor Sam was 82 years old.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

Emily C. Wurtlinger

A longtime ally of Phyllis Schlafly in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s rights in general, Emily C. Wurtlinger was a fierce opponent of abortion in her hometown of Lathrop (San Joaquin County). Mrs. Wurtlinger was co-chair of Valley Conservative Moms for Trump; she was said to have baked thousands of cookies for MAGA rallies. In March, Mrs. Wurtlinger came down with serious symptoms of upper-respiratory illness. She refused medical treatment, arguing that “If my Lord wants me, then I’m ready.” After five of her grandchildren were stricken with coronavirus (one of whom died), Mrs. Wurtlinger was placed under involuntary quarantine by San Joaquin County health officials. She was in the process of suing them for violating her civil rights when she died, at the age of 68.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

Walter C. “Wally” Kremly

Wally was a fifth-generation rancher in the small Alpine County town of Markleeville. A former Boy Scout troop leader, he was forced to step down after multiple allegations of sexual abuse of boys, but never was prosecuted. He served one term as Mayor of Markleeville (1983-1987) as a Republican. Wally’s politics veered further and further to the right as he aged. He led a petition drive to impeach former President Barack Obama for being “a Kenyan national and likely a cutout for radical Islamic militants.” In 2016, Wally organized Markleeville for Trump, and remained a staunch supporter of the President until the end. Last year, Wally led an unsuccessful effort to declare Trump’s impeachment “null and void.” Wally opposed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, which he compared to “the Nazi persecution of Jews. This is our Holocaust.” Following the pandemic’s outbreak, he organized “touch-ins” around the county in which protestors hugged each other. He was 61 years old.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

Rep. Alberto Flores

Rep. Flores was the Republican congressman from California’s 4th district, in Elk Grove (Sacramento County). Elected during the 2010 Republican wave, he at first supported Texas Sen. Marco Rubio for the 2016 Presidential election, but wholeheartedly switched to Donald Trump. A member of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Flores was one of the most conservative members of Congress. He sponsored a bill to have Trump’s head carved into Mount Rushmore, demanded that a wall and moat be constructed along the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border, and urged the expulsion of Dreamers as “criminal rapists and drug dealers.” When the coronavirus crisis struck, Rep. Flores called it “a Democrat-China-terrorist hoax” and said “If God had meant for America to have a pandemic, He would have done it during the Obama administration.” Rep. Flores was 49 years old.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

Cory R. Fleck

Cory Fleck was a resident of Smith River (Del Norte County). He lived “off the grid,” a firm believer in rural living who rejected government. Mr. Fleck had no known source of income or family. He was known in Smith River as “Cory the Republican” due to his fierce belief in President Donald J. Trump. For the last three years of his life, Cory, a professed white nationalist, was never seen without his MAGA hat and Glock G29, which he open-carried. He refused to comply with Gov. Gavin Newson’s “shelter-in-place” order and continued panhandling the streets and taking drugs with his homeless friends. Cory told the Smith River News-Journal that nobody could take away his “God-given right to socialize,” which he vowed to defend at the cost of his life. Cork Fleck was 29 years old.

Cause of Death: COVID-19

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