GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When Milton Marlatt turned 82 on April 8, his sister wished him “happy birthday” by phone.
“I told him, ‘I love you’ and ‘I didn’t forget,’” Helen Mourer recalled. “I told him, ‘We’re getting old,’ and we kind of laughed about it.”
The brother Mourer described as her “best bud” died the next day.
Marlatt was one of nine residents of Metron of Cedar Springs whose lives have been claimed by the coronavirus. The nursing home reported 31 residents and five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
Milton Marlatt’s death certificate listed three causes of death: COVID-19, COPD and diabetes.
“He was my rock and I was his. We always watched out for each other,” recalled Mourer, who noted her brother was voted “king” at the Cedar Springs nursing home.
In his obituary, he is pictured wearing the crown he was awarded.
“He was goodhearted to everyone,” Mourer said.
She saw her brother for the last time several weeks ago through the window at the nursing home. It was before she knew he was among the residents who’d been infected by COVID-19.
“He kept holding up his hand as if to push me back,” Mourer recalled. “I didn’t understand why at the time.”
She now believes he was trying to keep her safe.
“No wonder he was trying to push me away,” she said. “I’m heartbroken. He loved his Bible and was a good Christian man. I miss him, you know?”
Marlatt died on April 9, as did another Metron resident who had tested positive for the virus.
Ruth Grace Cooper, 86, was described by her daughter-in-law as a sweet woman.
“She liked to laugh, sing, joke around, crochet, draw, and write poetry,” Beth Cooper told News 8. “She loved her church family as well, but her greatest love was for the Lord.”
Cooper’s causes of death were listed as pneumonia due to COVID 19, bilateral pneumonia infectious cause, aspiration, acute respiratory failure with hypoxia and severe sepsis.
In an email exchange late Monday afternoon, a Metron of Cedar Springs representative confirmed that nine of the 31 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
But he also noted that several residents stricken with the virus are improving.
“On a positive note, three (residents) have returned from the hospital to continue recovery at Cedar Springs,” the representative wrote.