SARATOGA SPRINGS - Real Estate agent Dennis Evans loved a good pun, good music and a good time. He died Monday at Saratoga Hospital of COVID-19, less than a week before his 60th birthday. He is the fifth person to die from the disease in Saratoga County.

A real estate agent since 2015, Evans led the Evans Real Estate Team at Coldwell Banker Prime Properties.

"He was driven by a call to help people," said Kelly Gardner, a fellow real estate salesperson with Coldwell Banker. "It was his only purpose in the business."

Evans' friends and family, already devastated they could not visit him in the hospital while he was sick, are grieving together through video conferences, phone calls and text messages. His Facebook page is full of condolences, memories and nods to his sense of humor. His last post was March 19, a popular meme going around as schools shutdown to stop the spread of coronavirus: "I started home schooling today. So far two students are suspended and the teacher was fired for drinking on the job."

Erin Pulver, a member of  Evans' team, said he pulled her through a tough time and brought her back into the real estate business in 2017 after she stepped away for a while. Pulver called Evans a father figure.

"He just had this way of making you feel like the most important person in the world," Pulver said. "At first I thought, 'Is this guy for real? No one can be this genuine.' I made a decision the day we met to join his team and he proved to me over the years he really is who he seems to be."

Pulver said she last spoke to Evans on March 24. She knew he was very sick as soon as she heard his voice. He was coughing a lot and having trouble breathing, she said. Evans told her one of his clients tested positive for COVID-19 and he assumed he had the virus, too, but he hadn't been tested. Wendy Hughes, Evans girlfriend, brought him to Saratoga Hospital on March 27, where he was treated in intensive care. It was the last any of his friends or family saw of him. Erin Evans, one of Evans' three children, said he had high blood pressure but no other underlying health issues.

"I want strangers and friends alike to take COVID seriously," Erin Evans said.  "Not only did this awful virus rob us of our father, but the comfort of seeing him in the hospital and saying goodbye," Erin Evans said. "If anything, I hope this inspires everyone to stay home, be safe and hopefully save others' lives. That's what my dad would want. We will have a huge celebration of his life when we can all be together again."

There was more to Dennis Evans than making jokes, said longtime friend Brian Brosen, also a real estate agent.

"He was always the one telling the jokes, he was a sarcastic, life-of-the-party kind of guy," Brosen said. "A lot of people saw that side of him, but he also cared about people. He was a nice, genuine guy. He would call me up and say, 'Did you hear about what (misfortune) happened to this person or that person, what can we do for them."

Both Brosen and Gardner recalled the time Evans invited them and various partners and family members to watch the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert from a luxury box at the Times Union Center in 2016. It's a great memory, Gardner said, of her friend dancing, singing and having a great time.

One of Pulver's favorite memories is of running into Evans while she was visiting Boston with her daughters, then 9 and 3.

"We were watching a street performer and I look across the crowd to seem him waving. We had dinner together and had the chance to bop around and watch the performers," Pulver said.

Saturday, on what would've been Evans' 60th birthday, Pulver plans to run a half-marathon, even though the most she's ever run is 5 miles.

"I'm doing it in his memory because he believed in me more than I ever believed in myself, and I want to do something to honor him," she said.