Wanda Dench—the grandmother who won the internet over after she accidentally texted a Thanksgiving invite to an unknown teenager and had him over for dinner—is mourning the death of her husband Lonnie Dench.
According to local news outlet Arizona Family, Lonnie passed away from coronavirus this past Sunday.
“He had the truest heart of love, like no other,” Wanda told the news outlet’s reporter Briana Whitney. “He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.”
Jamal Hinton, the young man who received the viral text back in 2016, also shared the news via Twitter on Wednesday.
“As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!” Jamal tweeted.
On April 1, Jamal tweeted that both Wanda and Lonnie had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I am so sad to announce that Wanda and Lonnie both have COVID-19 and that Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting both COVID and Pneumonia,” he tweeted at the time. “Please send words of love and encouragement their way.”
On Wednesday, he gave an update and tweeted that “Wanda is not sick.”
Wanda and Jamal’s text exchange went viral over three years ago. As fans will recall, Wanda—who is from Mesa, Ariz.—intended to send a text to her grandson inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner. However, she entered the wrong number and ended up texting Jamal instead. After receiving the message, Jamal asked who it was from, to which Wanda replied, “Your grandma.” Wondering if his grandmother had gotten a new phone number, Jamal asked for a selfie. He then saw her picture and realized the sender was not his grandmother. So, he sent her a picture back to let her know she had made a mistake.
“You not my grandma,” he replied. “Can I still get a plate tho?”
What happened next captured hearts everywhere.
“Of course you can,” Wanda replied. “That’s what grandma’s do…feed everyone.”
Despite a small mishap—Jamal accidentally posted Wanda’s number online along with the exchange—Wanda stayed true to her word and invited the young man over for dinner. They continued to spend the holiday together for years.