This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.
Kathy Ann Weldon, 63, of Salem, Mo., died on Jan. 24, 2021, after becoming ill with COVID-19. She’s among the more than 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the disease since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic early last year.
Her husband of 28 years, Randy Weldon, told Yahoo News that his wife was a loving mother, grandmother and the love of his life.
Kathy Weldon was a medical technologist who worked in small-town hospital labs for nearly 30 years. Most recently, Weldon worked at Salem Memorial District Hospital, where she was the laboratory department director. She had just retired in 2019.
Her husband says “she was a very dedicated employee” who loved helping those she managed.
“Kathy would cover people's shifts on holidays,” he said. “She just felt that she needed to get in there and work and help the employees out. … We were empty nesters. She worked holidays so other people that had children could enjoy their holidays at home with their kids, and we would make up for it later.”
Her daughter, Laura Johnson, said that one of her mother’s favorite things to do outside the lab was fishing. “She taught all of us kids to fish,” Johnson said, adding that Weldon also loved to paint and craft and was “an avid cross-stitcher.”
Randy Weldon remembered how much his wife loved kids. She enjoyed substitute teaching and liked doing laboratory demonstrations for elementary school students.
She loved her grandchildren dearly. The couple had 11 grandchildren who Weldon says “were the loves of her life.”
Randy and Kathy Weldon contracted COVID in mid-December 2020. The virus didn’t affect Randy as much, but Kathy deteriorated quickly. After being hospitalized for five weeks, she lost her battle to the disease.
For Randy Weldon, losing his life partner has been devastating. “This is a very difficult situation to be in, when you've been married, or been partners with someone for so long and they're gone suddenly. ... And you think to yourself, “I don't know if I can do this,” he said.
He recently began working with a counselor to help him cope with his loss, and he strongly encourages those who have lost a loved one to COVID to consider doing so as well.
“I urge you to seek that help out,” he said. “Don't try and carry it alone.”
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