Category: Not Forgotten: Alabama’s COVID Dead

Bernard Lockhart’s Work Ethic Fueled His Passion for Jazz and Community-Building

As a kid growing up in Leeds, NBA great Charles Barkley recalls seeing Bernard Lockhart running through the community. At the time, Lockhart was a star point guard on the Leeds High School basketball team with dreams of going pro.

“You know how hot it is in the middle of summer, but Bernard was running and training all of the time,” Barkley said. “We just wanted to play ball, but Bernard showed us it takes hard work if you want to be great. He had this amazing work ethic.”

Friends and family said Lockhart applied that same ethic in tackling almost every project, especially Magic City Smooth Jazz and its flagship project, Jazz in the Park.

Sometimes, he would get up in the middle of the night to scribble his ideas and sketch plans for the nonprofit arts and entertainment series, said his wife, Jackie Lockhart.

But then in November, the 59-year-old Lockhart was confronted with a challenge he could not overcome — even with his strong determination to survive. Read more.

Coronavirus Deaths Mount in Alabama Prisons

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Alabama prisons, with corrections officials announcing a number of inmate deaths in recent weeks.

Between Aug. 27 and Dec. 16, the Alabama Department of Corrections reported 29 inmates had died while positive for COVID 19, bringing the total number of inmate deaths associated with the virus to 50. Read about them.

Longtime Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver Would Have Done Just About Anything for His Little City

If you were in Clanton on Monday, you might have noticed signs of a celebration dedicated to the city’s late mayor, Billy Joe Driver, who died July 9 of COVID-19. There might have been a few people raising a glass to him on what should have been his 85th birthday.

It would be entirely appropriate, although Driver was a teetotaler.

You see, much of the prosperity around you in this peach capital of Alabama came as a result of Driver’s laser-focused absorption with making Clanton a better place to live and work, and part of that came down to alcohol sales. Read more.

‘Be Like Pearl’: A Woman so Admired She Inspired New Year’s Resolutions Was Felled by COVID-19

FORKLAND — If the Wizard of Oz had known Pearlean Slay, he would have called her a “good deed doer.”

In the movie, that line was targeted for the Tin Man, who had come to the wizard in search of a heart.

To hear her friends and loved ones tell it, Pearl Slay’s heart was as big as the Emerald City.

That heart stopped beating on May 29, two months shy of Slay’s 71st birthday, after a month-long battle with the coronavirus, and she entered a lineup of grim categories covering the nearly 2,300 Alabamians who have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Read more.

More of BW’s Not Forgotten: Alabama’s COVID Dead.

Remembering an Alabamian Driven to Figure Out How Things Worked

To understand how much Fred Bischoff loved to figure out how things worked, consider when he had surgery for a pacemaker at age 35.

“He asked if he could be awake while they put the pacemaker in and they let him,” his daughter Lisa Higginbotham said. “[It] was absolutely crazy.”

Bischoff was born in Birmingham and later settled in Montgomery where he and his wife raised three children. He died in June from COVID-19, one of more than 2,200 Alabamians who have died during the pandemic. He was 79.

He came from a long line of mechanically-minded men in his family and his curiosity started early. As a kid he wanted to figure out how the wringer of a washing machine worked. But in doing so, his right arm was pulled in and his mother had to rescue him. He had scar for the rest of his life. Read more.

Inmate Deaths: Even Behind Bars, Coronavirus Takes a Deadly Toll

In Alabama, 19 of the state’s more than 2,000 deaths from the coronavirus have been among inmates incarcerated in state prisons.

The inmates who have died with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 have mostly been over 60, with one under 40. Most of the deceased inmates had preexisting conditions, and some already had terminal diagnoses. Several of
the prisoners who died were serving life sentences.

“All inmate or staff deaths reported as COVID-19-related by the ADOC occurred following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. COVID-19 therefore was either a direct or indirect cause of death, or a medical condition associated with death,” said Alabama Department of Corrections communication specialist Samantha Rose. “Our goal is to transparently track and share the disease’s evolving impact on our system, including all deaths conclusively or likely related to COVID-19.”

Read about Alabama inmates who have died after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. Read more.

Pamela Rush Fought for Environmental Justice Before Being Felled by the Coronavirus

Pamela Sue Rush, a resident of Lowndes County, died July 3 from complications related to COVID-19. Rush, 49, was a mother to a 12-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son. She also was a well-known activist who fought against injustice in poverty-stricken areas.

Before she became ill, Rush spent the last two years of her life fighting for the poverty-stricken and those affected by systemic racism. She personally had been the victim of a predatory lender who charged her “almost 4 times the value” for her Lowndes County mobile home, which was dilapidated and surrounded by sewage drainage. Read more.

More of Not Forgotten: Alabama’s COVID Dead

Albert Trousdale’s Son Points COVID-19 Skeptics to a Tombstone

Almost 1,900 Alabamians Have Fallen to COVID-19. Who Were They?

The First Person Known to Die in Alabama After Contracting COVID-19 Never Let Her Disability Define Her

Albert Trousdale’s Son Points COVID-19 Skeptics to a Tombstone

This is the third installment in BirminghamWatch’s series Not Forgotten: Alabama’s COVID Dead

In the weeks since Albert Trousdale became one of the first people in Alabama to die from COVID-19, his son has been struggling with a haunting question.

Matt Trousdale wonders if the survivors of other coronavirus victims face the same kind of social stigma that confronts his family on a regular basis.

Although many people are kind to him and his relatives, he said, far too many digress onto a less compassionate path. They claim the disease is a hoax, or part of some political conspiracy, or a way for hospitals to make more money by chalking up every ailment to the coronavirus.

He has overheard other people in his small community in east Lauderdale County talking about his grieving family and questioning their belief that COVID-19 killed his father. Had his dad died of suicide or some other tragedy, he wonders, would people show the same lack of empathy?

“I know if they are going to say something about my dad, they are going to end up telling me their political affiliation,” Matt said, emotional pain bleeding through his voice. Read more.

More of Not Forgotten: Alabama’s COVID Dead

Almost 1,900 Alabamians Have Fallen to COVID-19. Who Were They?

The First Person Known to Die in Alabama After Contracting COVID-19 Never Let Her Disability Define Her

Almost 1,900 Alabamians Have Fallen to COVID-19. Who Were They?

Dr. Chaihan Korn. Phacethia Posey. Billy Ray Woods. Michael Woods.Robert Stewart. Clarence Shepherd. William Hershell Moon. Dave Thomas. Wayman Henry.

We know the names of people who have died after contracting the coronavirus — when they’re celebrities or otherwise prominent.

But we know very little about the nearly 1,900 Alabamians who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus and related illness during the pandemic. The confirmed numbers may not even be the complete totals.

Only a handful of the residents of the state who have died in connection with the pandemic — including the Alabamians listed in the first paragraph — have been identified publicly.

Until recently, most did not even know the name of the first person in Alabama to die after a COVID-19 diagnosis. She was Jenny McDonald, a Jackson County woman whose winning nature shone through her challenging life and who touched a community in unexpected ways.

The basic overall information has been known. As of late last week, 41% of those who died were black and 53% were white, with the rest being of other races or their races were unknown. Almost 78% were 65 or older; more than 17% were between the ages of 50 and 64; more than 4% were between the ages of 25 and 49. The genders were almost evenly split, with 51% of victims being male and 49% female. Of 1,830 confirmed cases Sunday, all but 65 had preexisting conditions.

But psychologist Josh Klapow said knowing something personal about the people who have died could help society as a whole grapple with the reality of this unprecedented viral outbreak that has upended life throughout the world. Read more.

Read the first in a series of stories about Alabamians who have been lost to COVID-19:

The First Person Known to Die in Alabama After Contracting COVID-19 Never Let Her Disability Define Her

The First Person Known to Die in Alabama After Contracting COVID-19 Never Let Her Disability Define Her

STEVENSON – Chicken has been gone since March 23, and things have not been the same for those who knew her, worked with her, loved her. Read more.

Her full name was Thelma Jenny McDonald. Most folks called her Jenny, but among family and close friends, she had been Chicken since she was small. Just why, it’s not clear now, but Chicken was a term of endearment. Now it’s a term of bereavement.

Born and raised in the northeastern corner of Alabama, Jenny McDonald was the first Alabamian to die after testing positive for the coronavirus. Loved ones say she’d had the shivers and nausea, had been in need of fluids and her kidneys had not been working right.

She was just 53, and she had been living with her sisters Nannie and Mary in the Milltown section of Stevenson, a Tennessee Valley town that stands on land where Cherokees once lived, where Union soldiers held sway for much of the Civil War, and where freight trains run regularly past the old downtown depot.