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After parents die together hand in hand, N.C. man warns all to take COVID-19 seriously

After parents die together hand in hand, N.C. man warns all to take COVID-19 seriously

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Peoples, Johnny and Darlene.jpg

Darlene and Johnny Peoples died from COVID-19 within minutes of each other, hand in hand.

After his parents died of COVID-19 together in a hospital, a North Carolina man issued a dire warning about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"We were cheated," Shane Peoples posted on Facebook last Monday about the deaths of his parents, Johnny and Cathy Peoples. "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."

The couple died Sept. 2 "within moments of each other" in Novant Health Rowan Regional Medical Center, according to their obituary. Johnny Peoples was 67. Cathy Peoples was 65.

His parents, married 48 years, contracted the virus a month before their deaths, Shane Peoples told Charlotte Observer news partner WBTV-Channel 3. On Sept. 2, hospital staff put the couple's hands together in their intensive critical care room and they died within four minutes of each other, Peoples told the station.

Due to the pandemic, a private memorial service was held for the couple.

Johnny Peoples was a Rowan County native who had worked for the state's prison system. He "loved coaching youth sports, playing music and building the family tree," his family wrote in the couple's obituary.

Cathy Peoples, whom everyone called by her middle name, Darlene, was a Yadkin County native who had been a preschool child care provider, teacher assistant at Salisbury Academy and lab technician at LabCorp during her work career. She enjoyed crafting, listening to music and playing cards, her family wrote.

They had two sons, a daughter and nine grandchildren.

"My parents weren't just a blessing for me, my brother, my sister, our spouses, and our children," Shane Peoples posted on Facebook. "They were a blessing to every person that met them."

His mom "had the most beautiful soul of anyone you could have met. She was very generous with the love she had for everyone. If she didn't love you or have love for you, something was wrong with you."

Johnny Peoples never met a stranger, his son said. "He could strike up a conversation with anyone and make them smile," Shane Peoples said. "He spent years coaching youth sports and loved helping these children become better people."

Without his parents, he posted on Facebook Wednesday, "this world just got a bit more gloomy."

"Mom and Dad wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else," he said.

On Sept. 5, COVID-19 also claimed a couple from Pageland, S.C., who were married 40 years, the Observer reported.

Shane Peoples urged everyone to wear masks, wash their hands, practice social distancing and "be kind to each other."

"Hold your family close," he said in Wednesday's post. "Treat every moment with them like it's your last, it could very well be. Love and keep on loving."

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to genetic sequencing research in the Department of Pediatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine. Make checks payable to Duke University and mail to Duke Health Development, Attn: Culver Scales, 300 W. Morgan St., Suite 1200, Durham, NC 27707 in honor of Johnny and Darlene Peoples.

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