Suffolk County unveils memorial that honors local COVID victims


“I know he’s looking down, smiling.” 

Those were the words Brenda Allison shared through tears as she honored her late husband and 25-year veteran of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Keith Allison, with a single blue ribbon at the Suffolk County Legislature’s William H. Rogers Building.

The Allisons were among the many families on Monday who had their loved ones who died from COVID-19 remembered.

This is part of the county’s new COVID-19 Memorial Project, a collection of ribbons in which the names of Suffolk residents who died of COVID-19 will be written.

The program was launched nearly a year after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Suffolk County. To date, there are over 3,000 residents of the county have lost their lives to the virus. 

Created by Boy Scout Troop 888, the COVID-19 Memorial at 725 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge gives families the opportunity to add ribbons with loved ones’ names to the structure at their convenience. 

A similar memorial will be set up at the county’s 300 Center Drive in Riverhead.

The hope of the project is to preserve the memory of friends, neighbors, family members, and heroes who have succumbed to the virus and give peace of mind to those grieving a loss. 

Story continues after the photo.

Brenda Allison embracing her son, Darius, after tying a ribbon to the COVID-19 Memorial in honor of her husband, Keith Allison.

“When we grieve, we need to have the community around us to support us,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “This is our opportunity to recognize them and give their families an opportunity to mourn.” 

Alongside Keith Allison’s family, the family of Suffolk County Police Lieutenant Robert Van Zeyl, a loved one of Suffolk County Police Auxiliary office Anthony DeNoyier, coworkers of Russell Shive, who served as superintendent of the Suffolk County Parks Department, were also in attendance for the ribbon ceremony.

“I and the Sheriff’s office will never forget Keith’s sacrifice, we will never forget the over 3,000 Suffolk County residents who have passed away from this virus, and not only will we not forget them, we will not forget their families — we will support them and do anything we can for them.” 

Information regarding the memorial follows after photo.

Brenda Allison holding her granddaughter Ava, her son Darius, and daughter Alicia alongside Suffolk County police.

Those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 who wish to add a ribbon can visit for more information and to fill out a form. 

The website offers an option to share a photo and story about the person. Once the county receives a submission, staff members will write the loved one’s name on the ribbon and tie it to the memorial. 

If the family members prefer to write the loved one’s name and tie it themselves, they can fill out the online form and then visit the memorial in Hauppauge. 

Ribbons and markers will be available at both locations Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the entire month of March. The two structures will ultimately be combined into one and put on permanent display in Hauppauge.