A North Carolina couple who were married for 48 years died just minutes apart while holding hands after a month-long battle with COVID-19.
Johnny Lee Peoples, 67, and his wife Cathy Darlene Peoples, 65, were together for five decades when they were rushed to Novant Health Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
‘They were married 48 years, been together 50, they walked hand in hand for those 50 years,’ their son, Shane Peoples, told WBTV.
The couple died on September 2, marking the end of a 30 day ordeal where both contracted the virus and swiftly declined in health.
Cathy Darlene Peoples (left) and Johnny Lee Peoples (right) were together for 50 years when they died of COVID-19 on September 2
Johnny (left) and Cathy (right) were both North Carolina natives who had close ties to the local community
Shane said the ordeal began when his mother, who was just days away from retirement, started showing symptoms.
‘It was mainly the fever and loss of taste,’ Shane told the publication. ‘My dad starting showing symptoms two days later. About two weeks later they were both put in the ICU. Everything just went south, everything just got worse.’
In the final moments of their lives, hospital staff brought Johnny and Cathy together in the same intensive care unit to see each other.
‘The next day they put them in the same room, same ICU room, they put their hands together, the nurses gathered around and they passed within four minutes of each other,’ he said.
An outdoor, socially distanced funeral was held for the couple on Wednesday morning.
Hospital staff brought Cathy (left) and Johnny (right) together into the same ICU unit to hold hands before they passed away
Left to mourn the loss of both his parents, Shane penned a touching and heartfelt tribute on Facebook.
‘We were cheated. The lives of Mom and Dad were stolen by a virus that many joke about on a daily basis or just straight out believe it’s a hoax of some sort. Both of them took this pandemic seriously and still got sick, still died,’ wrote Shane.
‘My parents weren’t just a blessing for me, my brother, my sister, our spouses, and our children. They were a blessing to every person that met them…
Pictured (left to right): Cathy Darlene Peoples, Shane Peoples and Johnny Lee Peoples
Shane Peoples: ‘My parents weren’t just a blessing for me, my brother, my sister, our spouses, and our children. They were a blessing to every person that met them’
Shane told WBTV that people need to take COVID-19 more seriously in their daily lives and that it’s ‘not a hoax’
‘I miss them so very much. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal without being about to talk to them every night on my ride home from work or not being able to send them pictures and videos of my family.
‘I’ll never be able to hug them, again. I’ll never hear Mom sing happy birthday to anyone, again. I’ll never see them smile when they see Liam and Ava come in the room. They won’t get to see their grandchildren grow up, or see many of their grandchildren graduate.
‘I know a lot of people believe they have/had the most loving, most caring, affectionate, and devoted parents, but they are wrong. That’s my parents. I only wish I could fill their shoes.’
Shane said that the family hoped and prayed that his parents would recover.
‘…They died together holding hands and walked into Heaven holding hands.’
Shane Peoples: ‘. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal without being about to talk to them every night on my ride home from work or not being able to send them pictures and videos of my family.’ Pictured: Johnny Lee Peoples (left) and Cathy Darlene Peoples (right)
According to an obituary, the couple are both North Carolina natives who had close ties to the community.
‘Johnny loved coaching youth sports, playing music and building the family tree,’ the obituary read.
He was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army and worked for the NC Department of Corrections.
‘[Cathy] worked as a pre-school childcare provider, teacher assistant at Salisbury Academy and a lab technician at LabCorp,’ it read.
‘[She] enjoyed crafting, listening to music and playing cards. They both enjoyed fishing and spending quality time with family and friends.’
Johnny (left) was an Sergeant in the U.S. Army and worked for the NC Department of Corrections, while Cathy (right) worked as a pre-school childcare provider, teacher assistant at Salisbury Academy and a lab technician at LabCorp
Shane told WBTV that that COVID-19 must be taken seriously and encouraged his Facebook followers to practice CDC recommended health guidelines.
‘It’s not a joke. It’s not a hoax,’ said Shane. ‘I just don’t anyone else to get hurt. I don’t anyone to feel the grief that we’re feeling.’
So far, the Tar Heel state has recorded more than 181,000 confirmed cases and 3,016 deaths.
The state COVID-19 dashboard reported that 1,222 new infections were confirmed on Thursday, while 928 people were hospitalized.
Rowan County, where the city of Salisbury sits, has counted 2,993 infections and 79 deaths.