Local News

Family hopes Garner man's death spreads COVID-19 awareness

The brother of a man who died from a severe COVID-19 infection is using his obituary to share an important message.

Posted Updated

Joe Fisher
, WRAL reporter
GARNER, N.C. — The brother of a Garner man who died from a severe COVID-19 infection is using his obituary to share an important message.

Stephen A. Lawrence died in Tennessee on Oct. 24 at the age of 59. He lived most of his life in Garner but had recently relocated to Nashville, where he helped people find employment, something family members said he called his "dream job."

In his obituary, Lawrence's brother, David Lawrence, wrote that he died from a severe COVID-19 infection "after refusing to believe that Covid was real and refusing to get a vaccine" and "then refusing to go to the hospital when he could not breathe."

Lawrence leaves behind his 92-year-old mother, his brother, a son and many others who loved him, according to the obituary. After the tragedy, David said the family is trying to illustrate how important the battle against COVID is, showing people how Stephen's choice is affecting them today.

"Please make his passing mean something," his brother wrote. "Please go and get a vaccine in his honor."

David was candid about his brother's death, feeling strongly that he'd still be alive had he gotten vaccinated. David told WRAL News he last talked to Stephen on Oct. 12, eventually finding out that was the day Stephen tested positive for COVID-19. Stephen didn’t want anyone to know about his diagnosis.

David said Stephen seemed upbeat when they spoke, talking at length about his job and how he had met all his quotas.

"I thought everything was going grand," David said.

On Oct. 24, not even two weeks later, Stephen died alone.

“The saddest thing about it all is that he died alone with none of his family,” David said. “There’s no reason for him to be dead," he said. "Because he had the power in his hand to be able to go get a vaccine.”

David said the family hopes to find solace in convincing others at-risk from COVID to get vaccinated.

“If Stephen’s death means anything and one person goes and gets vaccinated and saves their life, that is what I was hoping for,” David said.


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