Today Marks One Year Since The First COVID-19 Death In Ohio
Today marks one year since the first Ohioan died from COVID-19. Since then, more than 18,000 Ohioans have died from the virus. We remember some of those husbands and wives, parents and grandparents, siblings and loved ones with the words of those who knew them best.
It’s been one year since the first Ohioan died from COVID-19. Governor Mike DeWine opened his then daily coronavirus news conference with the sad news about someone the governor knew on a personal basis.
“Mark Wagoner, Sr., prominent attorney in Toledo, someone who had been on the board of elections, someone who had been prominent in the Republican Party. Mick was very well respected,” DeWine said.
Mick’s son, former state lawmaker Mark Wagoner, said doctors first suspected his Dad had a recurring bout with pneumonia. Mark says the family was shocked when tests for COVID-19 came back positive. The younger Wagoner says his Dad was beloved by his community and his family.
“It was a difficult time for the family because Dad was the glue that kept us together,” Mark Wagoner said.
In late summer, Columbus attorney Abe Bahgat became ill with COVID-19. He was sick for months before dying from COVID on October 30th. His son, David Bahgat, said his father lived life fully.
“For an 82-year-old, this man literally could do anything. Still practiced law up until the day he got sick. Was traveling the world. He had a trip to Prague booked for April of last year. Nothing scared him, including the virus.”
David Bahgat said his father battled with COVID. Just when he would start to get better, he would take a turn for the worse. To make matters worse, David said Abe got an infection in his intestines and color. David was with his father when he passed away after his three-month-long battle with COVID-19.
Canton area resident Robert Burns, Jr. lost his battle with Coronavirus just a few days before Christmas. He was a former volunteer firefighter and a reserve captain for the Stark County Sheriff’s office. And Burns worked as a juvenile corrections officer at Indian River Schools for 29 years.
His wife, Pam, said he was outgoing and outspoken.
“He was a very black and white person. And he didn’t mind telling you what he thought,” Pam Burns said.
His son, Bobby Weston of Columbus, said he didn’t always see eye to eye with his Dad but respected him.
“I am 28 years old. I shouldn’t be burying my Dad as a 28-year-old,” Weston said.
Burns was only 60-years-old when he passed away on December 17, 2020.
Steve Sidebottom of Westerville was a distinguished Navy veteran. For two decades, he worked in the oil industry where he often traveled to Saudi Arabia. That’s where he met his wife, Christina. She remembered Steve as a kind man who volunteered with his church, playing guitar in the Praise Band. Christina Sidebottom said Steve had a great sense of humor and sometimes put her to sleep by telling funny stories.
“We did everything together so it’s really hard. I just feel like my heart has been ripped out,” Christina Sidebottom said.
Steve Sidebottom passed away from COVID-19 on November 1, 2020.
Gina Rollins and her sister were battling COVID and weren’t at her Mom’s hospital bedside when Mary Ann Rollins passed away August 26, 2020.
“The hospital chaplins called us about 6-6:30 and we got to say our goodbyes over the phone. And they said a prayer with her. The next call we got was at 8:30, telling us she was gone,” Rollins said.
Gina almost lost her only son to COVID about the same time. Luckily, he recovered. Three weeks later, the family was finally able to hold a small service to honor Mary Ann, the former registered nurse who worked in public health for five decades and broke down color barriers in her nursing program at Ohio State University.
Tiffin resident Diane Dougherty volunteered at the local independent theater. But her main job in life was raising her two kids. They were born 11 months apart. Diane had some existing health problems when she came down with COVID-19 over the winter. Her son, Gary Dougherty, said her body couldn’t fight off the virus. She was taken to a hospital on Christmas evening. Later, she was transferred to a rehab center. But she wasn't making any progress. So, when it became clear she wasn’t going to recover from the illness, Gary said brought her to his Central Ohio home, sitting her hospital bed in his living room.
“So, we brought her down here and Dad was here, my wife and I and one of our daughters when she took her last breath,” Gary Dougherty said.
Diane Dougherty died January 21, 2021.
Mark Daniels, a Dayton area pastor, was also with his Dad, Jim Daniels when he passed from COVID on February 26th. But two of his three sisters couldn’t be because they were battling COVID and the other sister who was tested positive for it the next day. Mark said he had some great conversations with his 91-year-old Dad, an Air Force veteran, a devoted father and grandfather.
“He had a great sense of humor. I’m still just crushed,” Daniels said.
Daniels said a couple in his congregation lost their 19-year-old granddaughter to coronavirus. And he says others have been battling the virus for months.
Central Ohio resident David Cyphert had served as the fiscal officer for Bloom Township for more than a decade. His wife of 32 years, Anne Darling Cyphert, said he was a kind and gentle man. She said he was active and physically fit, biking regularly and running three miles every day. She said she thought, at first, that he could beat the virus. The last time she saw him was at the local hospital, right before he was put on a ventilator.
“I’m standing outside the glass window and they had the phone up to him and I went fight, fight, They gave me a thumbs up. And then I said, I love you, and he took his hand. And that was the last communication we had,” Anne Darling Cyphert said.
David died from COVID-19 on December 17, 2020.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau