A Covid-19 Death One Year Later

Calvin Lucy, a member of the Virginia Tech Cadet Corps, circa 1940s.

Saturday. April 24, 2021.

A year ago today America was still in Covid hell.

With a president who had just announced that bleach and who-knows-what-else could be injected in our bodies to oust the coronavirus infection … with some Americans drawing a line in the sand against wearing life-saving masks to help prevent spread of this deadly virus … with gun owners taking up arms in demonstrations at state capitols …

… as state governors were left on their own without federal coordination to find protective materials for their healthcare workers while scrambling to protect their citizens …

… and as all that was taking place, 570,000 Americans died from Covid-19. Parents, children, siblings, co-workers, pastors, poultry workers, office workers, grocery store employees, and on the frontline doctors and nurses who were caring for the sick also died.

According to studies, 84 percent of deaths could have been prevent if the previous administration Trump had taken steps that were laid out by infectious disease experts. Eighty-four percent! If you are one of the large fellowship of families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors of those who died during the past 14 months, that hits in the gut in a way others will NEVER understand.

And a year ago today my family lost a man who had been a part of us for more than 40 years. My step-dad, Calvin T. Lucy, Jr., lost his battle with Covid in the early day of this wicked, mysterious virus. No funeral. No gathering with family and friends. We finally held a graveside service four months later on his birthday in August.

Now 27 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated; half of Americans have received at least one Covid vaccine shot. A recent survey noted that 43 percent of Republicans indicate they will not be vaccinated, 22 percent of Independents, and five percent of Democrats.

Please. Vaccinate and help our nation immunize against Covid-19.

In May 2020 the New York Times published an edition when the nation hit 100,000 Covid deaths. In the lists of names was Calvin Lucy. We were only three months into the Covid nightmare.

A year ago I wrote, “At a time when death has been muted in this country, there is a sense of gratitude to the NYT for taking these silent deaths and celebrating their lives in a way most have not been able to do while the country has been in quarantine and isolation during this global pandemic. Silent deaths, silent tears, silent grieving.”

Here’s a glimpse of the man who was reduced to a number in 2020 during a global pandemic. He was special, made his contributions to this world, and is missed.

We lost my step-dad in the early hours of April 24 after he had spent 10 days in the hospital. He was 93. His assisted living residence in Midlothian was one of those hit by coronavirus. You saw one line of his life in the New York Times … let me tell you a little more about this remarkable man.

Calvin Tompkins Lucy Jr. died alone in a hospital in Richmond surrounded by doctors and nurses in Covid-proof attire, like exterminators who spray our homes for bugs, covered head to toe to protect against this highly contagious virus. He is now a statistic, another number on the charts. Years from now our children will say their grandfather died in the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.

Cal and Mom at a Chesterfield County Republican Committee dinner.

His passing came during spring in Virginia, one of the most beautiful times of the year. He loved to tend his roses and the flowers that surrounded his home so it somehow seemed fitting that he slipped away while everything was blooming all around us.

Affectionately known growing up as “Brother,” he was a “soda jerk” making ice cream and malted goodies during his teen years at the neighborhood northside Richmond pharmacy known as Willey Drug.

He was a John Marshall High School Class of 1943 graduate who, as noted by the New York Times, organized his class reunions up through the 70th that was held in 2013.

He was a Virginia Tech graduate, Class of 1948, engineering, and remained a Hokie the rest of his life. On game day, he would set up his TV tray with his lunch or dinner, and parked himself in front of the television for Virginia Tech football until the game was over. We would joke about interrupting in one way or another because he was glued to that game.

He was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving on the U.S.S. Denver. A lifelong employee of Virginia Power (VEPCO) until his retirement. His dad, Calvin T. Lucy Sr., was one of the founders of WRVA 1040 radio, WWBT-TV, and WCVE public TV in Richmond.

Cal came into our lives after my dad died. Mom was still so young, only in her 40s since Dad was only 51 when we lost him to cancer. Cal had Dad’s characteristics. He was quiet, friendly, easy going, and had a gentle humor, a quick smile, and always a corny joke up his sleeve.

A voracious reader of American writer Louis L’Amour, he enjoyed photography and caring for the multitude of bird feeders around my parents’ Salisbury home. He could repair anything and his garage workshop was busy with projects from woodworking to repair of small engines.

Cal was easy to get along with and, though I missed my dad terribly, he filled in the empty spaces. My sisters and I were 22, 20, and 13 when our Dad died. With Cal we wrapped our arms around him from the very beginning and we became a family.

After his retirement from Virginia Dominion Power, Cal remained active in everything. We called him our Energizer Bunny. He was involved in the community, his church, Dominion Power retirees, and his high school alumni. It was hard to accept that the Energizer Bunny’s battery had finally played out.

If your family has not been touched by this horrid monster of a disease, count yourself fortunate. Because we have. And our hearts are broken at our loss. It’s not a hoax, and it’s not the flu.

 

Obituary from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

LUCY, Calvin Tompkins Jr., age 93, died on April 24, 2020, from complications due to Covid-19, at St. Francis Medical Center, Midlothian, Va.

He was born August 17, 1926, at Hygea Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. He was preceded in death by his father, Calvin Tompkins Lucy Sr. (a WRVA and national radio broadcasting pioneer); his mother, Kathleen Seelinger Baseler Lucy; sister, Bettie Lucy Cox and brother-in-law, James Bernard Cox Jr.; adopted son, James Christian Lucy and wife, Eula Elizabeth Osborne Randall Lucy. Calvin is survived by his daughters, Kathryn Graham Lucy Wilkins, Charlotte Allen Lucy Roberts (Jim); and son, Calvin T. Lucy III (Elizabeth Holt, Graham Wright).

Also surviving are grandchildren, Karen Patricia Wilkins Lynne (Andy), Rebecca Kathryn Wilkins Henderson (Douglas), Jeffrey Thomas Wilkins (Carly), Joshua Graham Hale Mott; and great-grandchildren, Ethan Callom Lynne, Lucy Helen Lynne, Madeline Kathryn Henderson, Sophie Eileen Henderson, Floyd Durward Wilkins and Murray Homer Wilkins.

Also surviving are stepdaughters, Barbara Lynn Randall Mitchell (William), Gail Elizabeth Randall Aspinwall (William) and Lori Rae Randall Phillips (Jon); as well as step-grandchildren, Matthew William Mitchell (Valerie), Katelyn Mitchell Lord (Colin), Molly Kennedy Wear, and Emily Schuyler Phillips.

Calvin was educated in Richmond City and Henrico County public schools, becoming John Marshall High School’s 1943 Class Historian and Honor Society President, graduating in June, 1943. He enrolled in Electrical Engineering at the V.P.I. Richmond Extension in July, 1943 and was inducted into the U.S. Navy on January 26, 1945. He served aboard the U.S.S. Denver as an Electronic Technician until his discharge on August 6, 1946.

Re-enrolling at V.P.I. in September 1946 under the G.I. Bill of Rights, he returned to the Va. Tech Cadet Corps., graduating in July 1948 with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, Electronics Option. During the Vietnam War, Calvin was appointed to serve as a member of Selective Service Draft Board #56 (North Richmond), serving until the Selective Service System was ended.

As an Electrical Engineer, with an FCC Commercial First-Class Radio-Telephone Operator’s License, Calvin was employed October, 1949 by Dominion Va. Power (then VEPCO). There, starting as a Mobile Radio Technician, he worked through a variety of engineering/ operations/ executive positions, helping pioneer VEPCO’s first IT Dept. and engineering many computer systems. He retired May 31, 1988, from Dominion’s Telecommunications Dept., after 39 and a half total years of service.

A “fixer – jack of all trades,” he enjoyed photography, woodworking, personal computers, civic work, politics, birding, and gardening. With much classmate assistance, he organized the later-year JMHS class of 1943 reunions through the 70th in 2013, finally donating all class records to the Richmond Valentine Museum.

Due to current Covid-19 precautions, a memorial service at Huguenot Road Baptist Church is being planned in Calvin’s birthday month of August, with interment to be private. For further information, email son, Tom ([email protected]).

Cal’s lilacs were blooming when he left and continue to bloom this spring in my yard.

In lieu of flowers, Calvin requested that donations be made to the Virginia Tech Cadet Corps, payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation, noted as a memorial to “Calvin T. Lucy, Jr.” The mailing address is: Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Advancement, 902 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, Va. 24061. To make an online donation, please go to [email protected]

The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to the staff of Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center, especially the Palliative Care nurses. Their loving presence brought him peace and made our absence, due to Covid-19, much more bearable.

What a remarkable man. I was honored to call my step-dad.

Cover photo: Delegate Lee Ware and Calvin Lucy

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