A Monroe County husband and wife died of COVID within five days of one another last week, and one of their sons remains in ICU as the virus continues to take its toll.
Ronald Davis, 86, of Hwy. 74, founder of Ronald Davis Logging, died on Jan. 4 just two weeks after testing positive. It was at his funeral on Saturday that family members were told that his wife, Hilda, had also died.
Ronald, who had a lot of health issues, had been taken to dialysis on Dec. 23 but his arm was bleeding where the needle was inserted, his son Danny told the Reporter. So they took him to Navicent. He eventually went on a ventilator and his heart gave out on Jan. 4.
On Dec. 22, his wife Hilda had been hospitalized for COVID symptoms. She was taken to an Augusta hospital and then to a long-term care facility, and seemed to be doing better, said Danny. But on Friday, Jan. 8 she took a turn for the worse.
The family gathered at 11 a.m. Saturday for Ronald’s funeral at Rogers United Methodist Church. When it was over, they found that their phones were inundated with phone calls. Their mother had passed away as well, at the age of 79.
“All in one day,” sighed Danny.
Meanwhile, Danny’s brother Donnie remains in ICU at Coliseum Hospital.
“He’s got a long way to go,” said Danny, noting that his brother, who owns Montpelier Tree Service, weighs 350 pounds and has diabetes.
Danny said he was actually the first family member to get COVID back on Dec. 13. He was sick for about two days and then was fine. Danny works for the family logging business his father founded, so he’s always “social distancing”.
“I’m always by myself,” said Danny. “I don’t get close to anyone. I drive 250 miles per day in my pickup.”
Danny said he only saw his dad one time after that, on his father’s 86th birthday, Dec. 22.
“I put my gloves and mask on because I hadn’t seen him since I had been sick,” said Danny.
Danny said they talked for three hours. He wasn’t going to tell him that his best friend, Jimmy Proctor, had died that day, until Ronald announced he was going to call Jimmy. Then he had to tell him.
Danny’s sister Heather also contracted COVID but she recovered fairly quickly.
The Davises are a close family. For decades, Hilda made three meals a day for them, and supper was always at 6 p.m. Attendance was expected and neighbors and guests were welcome too.
”You’d better be there to eat supper or you were gonna be fussed at,” said Danny. “My friends know not to call or mess with me at 6 p.m.”
Danny said in his 56 years he’s probably only eaten supper away from home 100 times.
Ronald, meanwhile, built the family logging business, cutting on the family’s 2,000 acres.
“We never run out of work,” said Danny. “They had a great life. Everybody thought the world of daddy. He gave away more than he’s ever had.”
Danny said his father loved to give away silver dollars, dispensing them like candy despite their $50 value.
Until COVID, the hardest thing Ronald faced, said Danny, was when their 1823 home burned to the ground on Sept. 23, 2011 after lightning struck it.
“I thought that would kill him right there,” said Danny.
Thankfully they had called all their family and friends over and got almost all the valuables out before fire consumed it. Within two weeks they had built a temporary new place on the property for their parents. When they finished building the permeant new home on the property, Danny joked they had to get the sheriff to evict his dad to make him move.
Danny said his dad had lost his own father very young. He had been a bus driver and was struck by a drunk driver that left him with permanent health issues. But Ronald was able to move on to have a successful career in the timber business. Still, he never bought much for himself, and gave away his social security money every month. Some of his last words were imploring Danny not to sell their family land.
“He had a tough life, but a good one,” said Danny. “If anybody ever needed anything, he would give it to you. We’ve had a great time. It’s sad, but he’s better off.”
Danny said his dad was excited about getting the COVID vaccine but said he just didn’t make it. Danny said several of their neighbors in the area have also died of COVID. He said it’s just hard to understand.
“Nobody can really figure it out,” said Danny. “It effects everybody differently.”
He cited one friend who rode 20 hours in a car to Mexico with someone who turned out to have the virus, yet never caught it.
But then in his family, it’s been devastating.
“This virus ain’t no joke,” said Danny. “It will kill you. That’s what people need to know.”
At the same time, Danny said they can’t just stop living.
“All you can do is keep going,” said Danny. “Quitting is not an option.”
See the Davis’ obituaries on page 6A.