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St. Augustine couple of 64 years dies from COVID-19

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A married couple who’ve lived in St. Augustine their entire lives passed away from COVID-19 complications within five days of each other.

The children of Roger and Betty Colee said they wouldn’t have been happy living without one another.

“We expected they were going to get better and come home,” said Cheryl Reese, daughter. " Never did we expect they would not come home. We didn’t feel like they were that sick when they went in, but that’s what COVID does.”

As cars go by on San Jose Road, The Colee’s, both 83, would sit in rocking chairs twice a day and wave outside the home they built in 1986.

“We never ever thought they would not walk out of the hospital,” said Reese. “We were so shocked this went down so quick.”

Their kids, Cheryl Reese and Wayne Colee, say Roger wasn’t feeling well on November 21. Two days later, both their parents tested positive for COVID-19. The day after Thanksgiving, both were admitted into Flagler Hospital in separate rooms but next to each other.

“That was Friday, November 27, and by Sunday morning early mom was intubated and on a ventilator, and Monday morning dad was intubated and on a ventilator,” said Reese.

The Colee’s had underlying health conditions. After a month hooked up on machines, Roger died on December 23 and Betty died five days later. Right before Roger’s passing, he was having respiratory issues. At the same time, Betty was too.

“We understood why dad would be having it, but mom was doing good on the ventilator 50% pressure support so that doesn’t make any sense,” said Reese. “I really think they were communicating. He was probably telling her he was checking out and she was telling him all right be right behind you.”

Roger and Betty were high school sweethearts. They were married for 64 years.

“Everything was together they were attached to the hip and everything was family,” said Wayne Colee, son.

After graduating from St. Joseph Academy, Roger worked for the state for 42 years, which included working for the Florida Division of Forestry, and transitioned to the Florida Highway Patrol, Division of Drivers License, and finally to the Division of Motor Vehicles Inspections.

Betty graduated from Ketterlinus High School and was hired by the Department of Military Affairs, working for the Florida National Guard for 55 years.

During retirement, they enjoyed making their homemade recipe of Colee’s hot sauce, riding motorcycles and camping.

“The passion they had for others they just love people interacting with the community,” said Reese. “I just can’t say enough about how they were social butterflies.”

Reese said her parents would frequently go to Chick-fil-A where employees knew how her mother liked her eggs cooked.

The Colee leave behind their three children, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Remembered their love for their family, travel, and the connection they shared with not only each other but their community.

Their daughter Cheryl says she’s after losing both her parents, she has learned -- you truly are not promised tomorrow, and be sure you tell your loved ones that you love them.

The Colee’s service is this Saturday at Turning Point at Calvary followed by a burial at Memorial Park Cemetery with COVID-19 guidelines in place.


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