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A Louisiana father and his two adult children have died from COVID-19 within days of one another, after the elderly man hesitated to get the vaccine, despite taking part in its distribution in his community.
Thaddeus Valentine Sr, 72, his 52-year-old son, Thaddeus Valentine Jr, and his daughter, Ta'Mara Davis, 47, succumbed to the virus within the first three weeks of the new year.
'It just all happened at once,' Valentine Sr's granddaughter Thyreal Valentine told WDSU. 'It just hit our entire household at once. We were not expecting it to turn out like this. Because we tried our hardest to keep them safe.'
Thaddeus Valentine Sr, 72, retired Louisiana fire chief and board president at a health center, died from COVID within days of his adult son and daughter
Thaddeus Valentine Jr, 52 (left), and Ta'Mara Davis, 47 (right), succumbed to the virus within the first three weeks of the new year
All three family members died in a span of two weeks. Valentine Sr's passing was announced by his employer on Wednesday.
Zora Brengettsy, Davis' 16-year-old daughter, said she expected her mother, uncle and grandfather to 'bounce back' from the illness, which so far has claimed the lives of more than 433,000 American lives.
More than 397,000 cases of the virus have been reported in Louisiana to date, and just over 8,800 deaths.
Zora Brengettsy, Davis' 16-year-old daughter (left), said she expected her mother, right, and the other family members to recover from COVID-19
Valentine Sr served as chief of the Herbert Wallace Volunteers Fire Department for nearly 20 years, After retiring, he became the board president of InclusiveCare, a health care provider in Avondale, Louisiana, and remained at that post for seven years.
As part of his job, Valentine Sr led the heath center's efforts to make COVID testing and vaccinations available to patients.
Dr Shondra Williams, CEO of InclusiveCare, said Valentine Sr himself balked at getting the jab himself because of hesitancy.
Under Louisiana guidelines, as a person over the age of 70 and as a person working for a health center, Valentine Sr was eligible to get vaccinated.
Valentine Sr (left and right) led local efforts to make COVID testing and vaccinations available to patients, but he balked at getting the jab himself
'He never missed a meeting even if he was the only one in attendance,' Williams wrote in a post announcing Valentine's death on Wednesday. 'He’s traveled from the Louisiana State Capital to the Nation’s Capital in Washington D.C. to ensure that the community’s needs were met.'
She went on: 'Mr. Valentine was the true demonstration of Integrity... He always left an indelible mark of pride and honor that was fitting for the person who would lead the organization on day 1 of his joining the board.'
Those who knew Valentine Sr professionally remembered him as a fierce advocate for his community.
'It is hard because my grandpa, he was always there for me,' Thyreal said. 'To wake up and know he is not there, or I cannot call him like I usually do. It is just hurtful.'
Valentine Sr, his son and daughter will all be laid to rest in Avondale on Monday.