As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the nation and Missouri this year, I am confident we all have known a friend, family member, acquaintance or colleague who has tested positive.
Some, unfortunately, also have lost friends or loved ones to the coronavirus. I had not been one of them until Sunday. It was then I learned of the death of a man from my “home church,” the church where I grew up and where I still attend when visiting my parents.
The man was in his 90s, and I feel certain he fell into the high-risk category given his age and underlying medical conditions. He had not been feeling well for several days before he was admitted to the hospital.
While there, he was diagnosed with both COVID-19 and pneumonia. His condition was very serious, and the prognosis didn’t look good.
So, when my mom told me Sunday he had died earlier that morning I wasn’t surprised, but I was saddened, and honestly, since then, I have shed a few tears as I’ve thought about the man.
He was a husband, father, grandfather, a great-grandfather, World War II veteran, Senior Citizen volunteer and so much more to the people who knew him. To me, he had been one of my biggest supporters and fans during my career.
I don’t remember exactly how it all began, only that it began while I was attending Southeast Missouri State University, where I majored in journalism.
After learning I has writing for the university’s student newspaper, the Capaha Arrow, he dubbed me “Lois,” as in Lois Lane.
He asked me to bring him copies of the paper, so he could read my work, and each week, I faithfully took him one. He assured me he enjoyed reading everything I had written.
When I moved to Poplar Bluff and began writing for the Daily American Republic, he still was a faithful reader, albeit on a lesser scale as what he read was only what was picked up by the Southeast Missourian.
Each time I saw him, he would say something to the effect of, “Hey, Lois, written any good stories lately” and ask me if I had written about a particular story he had seen on the TV news about Poplar Bluff.
He rarely called me by given name. It was always Lois, and when I signed my card on his 90th birthday, I signed it, Michelle aka Lois.
When the 1992 cold-case of the Laura Wynn murder appeared on “Forensic Files” in 2007, he was watching and saw my name pop up on the screen as a copy of the DAR appeared detailing the 2005 arrest of the suspect in Wynn’s death.
We talked about the case on several occasions, and he always told me each time a rerun of that “Forensic Files” aired.
With all that has been happening in our world since the coronavirus hit, I can’t recall the last time I saw or spoke to him. Like my parents, I fall into the high-risk category for COVID-19, and we’ve tried to limit our exposure to others anytime I visit them. As a result, we have not had face-to-face contact with much of our family or our church family.
To my longtime fan, I just hope he knew how grateful I was for his support over the years and how thankful I was to be among those who knew him.
Rest in peace … Lois.
Michelle Friedrich is a staff writer for the Daily American Republic and can be reached at email@example.com.