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Elfriede Liselotte Matza Froisland, 93: Dolly Parton's 'Dumb Blonde'

Via Kristin Ziegler

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Two years later, more than a million people have died in the United States from the disease. To put a face on this number and pay respect to the departed, NPR asked our audience to share songs that reminded them of a loved one lost to COVID-19. What follows are individual stories of those who have passed, those mourning them and the songs that continue to unite them.

My grandmother was born in Augsburg, Germany; she got her U.S. citizenship not long after the release of this song. I think my grandmother used music, especially the country music her American ex-husband introduced her to, to understand American culture — and she saw a lot of herself in Dolly. Both were musically inclined, pretty and blond, and dealt with their hardships, but had poise and wit on their sides. Also, like Dolly, my grandmother was boundlessly charismatic.

Elfriede remained a lifelong Dolly Parton fan: She had Dolly photos and memorabilia throughout her apartment. Some items she even won through Dolly Parton look-alike contests. I chose to submit "Dumb Blonde" because it captures Elfriede's bold, sassy, resilient spirit, and the pride she took in her signature big blond hair. —Kristin Ziegler, granddaughter

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.