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A South Dakotan who became well known for documenting his struggles with COVID-19 died Tuesday after fighting the virus for weeks. Now his family is urging the public to be safe, social distance and wear a mask.

John Bjorkman, 66, of De Smet, died Tuesday morning due to COVID-19 complications, his family said. He spent 30 days fighting the illness.

Friends and family remember him as a kind-hearted man with a dedication to education. He was a retired educator who had recently moved to be closer to his children and grandchildren in De Smet, according to his wife Chris Bjorkman. He spent his life in school.

“He’s been in school since kindergarten,” Chris said.

John Bjorkman started his career in education as a teacher in 1977. Five year later he went back to get his master’s degree at South Dakota State University where he