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July 4, 2020

Names of those we’ve lost: Family members remember relatives who died from COVID-19

Bill Carter

SALISBURY — Melissa Carter described her father as a difficult man.

Bill Carter left when she was 3 years old. Decades later, she suddenly found herself taking care of him. She was bitter about it at first.

He had been in an assisted living home before and lived with her family for more than a year before he fell down 17 steps backwards and needed full-time care. He was placed in a nursing home in June of 2015.

“He would give me hell,” Melissa said.

Bill was noncompliant. Health care professionals told him he needed to stay in his wheelchair, but he would still get up, walk and fall. He would not tolerate anyone telling him what to do. Melissa and her father fought often. What Melissa did not expect was how much she would appreciate the time she spent with her father.

“I actually didn’t think I would have the feelings I would when he died,” Melissa said, tearfully. “The feelings kind of overtook me.”

Bill liked everything to be neat. He wanted his bed made, his hair parted just right, woke up at 5 a.m. to wash his face, shave and put on his Stetson cologne.

He was a NASCAR fan until the day he died. His favorite driver was Dale Earnhardt. And when Earnhardt died, he started pulling for his son, Dale Jr. When Dale Jr. retired, Bill started pulling for Chase Elliott.

He liked to watch birds and squirrels eat from feeders. And he always wanted to have his favorite snacks lined up: Twinkies, Mountain Dew and crackers.

Bill was receiving care at what would become the Citadel nursing home in Salisbury. One day, Melissa received a call that Bill was unresponsive. She tried to get him to respond to her as well as her daughter. The next day, he was in a coma. He died on the afternoon of April 21 at the age of 73.

Melissa knew her father was in the at-risk group if he contracted COVID-19. After he tested positive for the coronavirus-caused disease, Melissa knew she could not visit him because she has comorbidities as well, and her daughter depends on her. She said Bill died alone.

Melissa said people who do not believe the virus is a threat “better think twice.”

“You can end up on a ventilator or dead,” she said, adding she can not plan a memorial service for Bill yet because the state has not entered stage three of reopening.

Bill was one of the 42 people that have died in Rowan County after testing positive for the virus. Most have died in a congregate living facility, with a plurality (21) coming from The Citadel. But there are now an increasing number of non-congregate living facility deaths — people who were not living in nursing homes, jails, prisons or residential care facilities.

Clifford Shuping

Carolyn Hess’ father was one of the many who have died after living in a congregate living facility.

Never knowing that her father was a poem-writer, she found a collection of them following his death dating back to the 1950s, and now wishes she had the chance to ask him about them. She says her dad, Clifford Shuping, was a soft-spoken man of few words. Many of the poems are about heaven.

Shuping served 12 years in the Army during the Korean War, and his passion was restoring antique cars. He had a 1929 Ford Model A roadster and a 1948 Ford convertible he used to ride in the annual Faith Fourth of July Parade. He was still working on mechanical equipment into his 80s.

Shuping liked to sit out on his farm land. His family got him a covered swing so he could sit in the afternoon and feed the animals. One of his favorite phrases was “That sounds like a winner.”

Hess said she was devastated when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the N.C. State Veterans Home on the campus of the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center. He liked it there and was well liked by the staff. Hess also said she felt that he was treated well.

Shuping was well for about two weeks, with no fever or other symptoms, and his family stayed in touch over the phone. They would hold his dog Kerlie up in video chats with each other.

At first, Hess said, it seemed like he would pull through, but there came a time where that changed. He did not feel good and did not want to talk. Shuping also was not interested in Kerlie anymore. A doctor suggested giving Shuping morphine because he seemed to be in pain.

The next morning, he was unresponsive; he stayed that way for two days before he died. And while the family could not visit him during his health decline because of family health issues, one of the workers at the facility called to tell her he was not alone when he died.

“I would have loved to sit and hold his hand,” Hess said.

Shuping died on May 19 at age 89.

One poem her father wrote, “Flowers, Friends and Family,” spoke to her family in the moments of mourning following his death. It is about his funeral.

“A song is sung, a prayer is prayed
A very short eulogy said
People like to remember the living
But too soon they forget about the dead,” one stanza reads.

This following is a list of some of the people who have died based on death certificates on file at the county Register of Deeds. This list is not complete. Death certificates do not immediately find their way to the clerk’s office and are filed as they come in. One suspected case was later confirmed negative by the Post. The location listed on their death certificate is not necessarily the location the person was living at the time of their death.

• Hazel Estes: Age 90. Died March 27. She was born in Davie County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a seamstress.

• Evelyn Coggins: Age 86. She died April 7. She was born in Buncombe County and lived in Salisbury. She was a registered nurse.

• Van Thomas Kluttz: Age 95. He died April 10. He was born in Cabarrus County and previously lived in Mt. Pleasant. He worked in maintenance.

• Jackqulyn Mae Benfield: Age 80. She died April 11. She was born in Iredell County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a seamstress.

• Johnnie O. Adams: Age 69. He died April 12. He was born in York County, South Carolina, and previously lived in Salisbury. He worked in maintenance.

• Hellen Lucille Waid: Age 103. She died April 13. She was born in Mahoney, Oregon, and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a homemaker.

• Juan Maurice Barber: Aged 59. He died April 13. He was born in Philadelphia and previously lived in Charlotte.

• Dorothy Mildred Cleveland: Age 98. She died April 14. She was born in Mecklenburg County and lived in Salisbury. She was a textile spinner.

• Kenneth Aaron Cook: Age 77. He died April 14. He was born in Stanly County and previously lived in Salisbury. He worked in law enforcement.

• Carolyn Elizabeth Corl: Age 82. She died April 14. She was born in Rowan County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a secretary.

• Ray Seamon Bost: Age 87. He died April 15. He was born in Rowan County and previously lived in Mt. Ulla. He was a master carpenter.

• Eddie Watkins Jr.: Age 85. He died April 15. He was born in Fairfield, South Carolina, and previously lived in Salisbury. He was a laborer.

• Beryl Marlene Wilson: Age 84. She died April 16. She was born in Oakland County, Michigan, and previously lived in Concord. She was an attorney.

• Ann DiSanto: Age 88. She died April 17. She was born in Pennsylvania and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a housekeeper.

• Mae Aileen Gunther: Age 94. She died April 19. She was born in Cabarrus County and previously lived in China Grove. She was a homemaker.

• William Junior Carter: Age 73. He died April 21. He was born in Rockingham County and previously lived in Salisbury. He was a machine operator

• Kenneth Claude Moody: Age 78. He died April 21. He was born in Haywood County and previously lived in Thomasville. He was an owner and operator of a service station.

• Carolyn Stiffel: Age 76. She died April 24. She was born in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a teacher.

• Yvonne Emanuel: Age 82. She died April 26. She was born in Robeson County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a screen printer.

• Marjorie Garvin: Age 96. She died April 27. She was born in Warren County, Georgia, and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a secretary.

• Connie C. Adams: aged 85. She died April 29. She was born in Portageville, Maryland, and previously lived in Greensboro. She served in the Army and earned the rank of sergeant first class.

• James Robert Steelman: Age 80. He died April 29. He was born in Rowan County and previously lived in Salisbury. He was an owner and operator of a pawn shop.

• Lewis Mitchell Rodgers Sr.: Age 92. He died May 9. He was born in Cabarrus County and previously lived in Salisbury. He was a welding inspector.

• Bobbie Jean Watkins: Age 78. She died May 11. She was born in Rowan County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a cook.

• Maizy Elizabeth Barber: Age 71. She died May 12. She was born in Rowan County and previously lived in Salisbury. She was a nurse’s assistant.

• Charles William Walker: Age 82. He died May 13. He was born in Forsyth County and previously lived in Mocksville. He was a music minister.

• James Arthur Smith: Age 81. He died May 16. He was born in Sampson County and previously lived in Durham. He was a manager in the lighting manufacturing industry.

• Charlie Will Jackson: Age 50. He died May 17. He was born in Onondaga County, New York, and previously lived in Charlotte. He was a military officer.

• Clifford Paul Shuping: Age 89. He died May 19. He was born in Cabarrus County and previously lived in Rockwell. He was an owner and operator of a truck parts business.

• Kim Doster Harper: Age 77. She died May 21. She was born in Davidson County and previously lived in Thomasville. She was a packer in the furniture industry.

• Lindsey Earl Spruill: Age 91. He died May 27. He was born in Washington County and previously lived in Salisbury. He was served in the U.S. Navy.

• George Lee Benfield: Age 96. He died May 24. He was born in Lincoln County and previously lived in Gastonia. He was a truck driver.

• John Frank Gibilaro: Age 91. He died May 30. He was born in the Bronx, New York, and previously lived in Jacksonville. He was an electrician.

• Gertrude Belk: Age 94. She died on June 7. She was born in Chesterfield, South Carolina, and previously lived in Kannapolis. She was a weaver.

If a loved one has died from COVID-19 and you’d like to share a story about their life and personality, email carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com. Please also email if we’ve missed your loved one.

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