52-year-old Mt. Washington veteran, VA nurse dies of COVID-19

52-year-old Mt. Washington veteran, VA nurse dies of COVID-19

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When Angela Wells-Vereb looks at the sympathy flowers on her coffee table, she can’t help but think of her husband, John Vereb.

“He was a really outgoing guy," Wells-Vereb said. "He loved to tell stories and make people laugh.”

Beneath Vereb’s infectious smile was a heart of gold.

“He was definitely a servant leader, who really believed in treating all people with dignity and compassion, no matter who they were or what their circumstances were,” Wells-Vereb said.

That mindset is something Wells-Vereb said her husband learned when he was a young man. After high school, Vereb enlisted in the Army and soon found his passion for nursing. His passion carried him through a 27-year career in various hospitals and clinics. His career came full circle in Louisville at the Veterans Affairs Clinic on Newburg Road.

In March, at the initial height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells-Vereb told WAVE 3 News her husband moved to the clinic’s emergency department to care for veterans who had contracted the virus.

“He wouldn’t want to worry us, but he would reassure us that he was taking it very seriously and taking every precaution that he could," Wells-Vereb said.

However, the roles changed a few weeks ago. Vereb would soon go from caregiver to patient.

Three weeks ago, while eating breakfast, Vereb complained of nasal congestion. A short time later, he would be in the hospital, on a ventilator, fighting the coronavirus.

After a week in the hospital, Vereb died. He was 52.

Vereb’s family did get to see him while he took his last breaths, but was forced to remain behind a glass screen and could only talk to him through a walkie talkie.

Vereb’s son Harrison said he continued to console his father until he succumbed to the disease.

“I just kept telling him I loved him," he said. “I kept telling him to fight, he’ll get through this.”

Now, Vereb’s family is making funeral arrangements, while still trying to remember the good times they had with their husband and father, a man they said loved to laugh and always thought about others before himself.

“He was such a light and an inspiration to so many people," Wells-Vereb said. "So many people loved him. Even now, when I look at pictures I usually smile, because we have so many good memories that we shared, and I just want people to cherish every moment. Do everything they can to take care of themselves and their family and cherish every moment they have.”

The family is looking to keep Vereb’s memory alive through a memorial donation to McKendree University’s nursing program. For donation information and John Vereb’s obituary, click here.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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Get the WAVE 3 News app on ROKU, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News)