Local News

Victims of COVID-19: So big, bringing Christmas and new life

With deaths from coronavirus in North Carolina approaching 1,000, WRAL remembers the lives lost, families mourning and stories of our neighbors.

Posted Updated

Mandy Mitchell
, WRAL reporter

Janice Fitzgerald’s daughter remembers the many times she was out with her mother as a young child in Johnston County. Fitzgerald, the popular teacher, couldn’t go anywhere without running into students and former students.

"They couldn’t wait to say ‘Hey Ms. Fitzgerald!’ They couldn’t wait to be acknowledged by her because she was so big to them," said Anna Fitzgerald.

Janice Fitzgerald died on April 11 from coronavirus at the age of 72. She is one of almost 1,000 people from North Carolina who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Fitzgerald taught for many years at Pine Level Elementary School where she was known as a fun but strict educator. She is remembered by her family as someone with a very rich sense of humor who enjoyed practical jokes.

"She loved to play tricks and was always conniving, in a good way," Anna Fitzgerald said.

Chris Willis of Chatham County was a father of one and grandfather of six before he died in April at the age of 69.

"He was the best. I mean he did everything," said Laryn Pratt, Willis’ daughter.

Willis drove a UPS truck and especially loved the times during the holidays when he could deliver Christmas packages to eager families.

"He worked really hard, really long hours for UPS driving a truck and delivering packages until 9 or 10 o’clock at night," Pratt said.

Janet Hammack passed away at the age of 78 on April 22 leaving behind three children.

"She did everything she could for us," said Teresa Travis, Hammack’s daughter.

Hammack worked at Rex Hospital delivering babies as a technician.

"I think she just liked the excitement of just that new life coming in the world," Travis said.

And as these three people leave the world, it is important to remember their names and the stories behind the statistics.


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