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Deceased Belmont County residents, numbering 278, memorialized after pandemic stalls proper goodbye

Belmont County

Hundreds of balloons lifted into the air to remember the 278 people lost during this pandemic.

BELMONT COUNTY, OH (WTRF) — Over 200 names and pictures of Belmont County residents filled the grounds surrounding the Senior Services of Belmont County on Wednesday.

It was a memorial service, 15 months in the making, to finally give a proper goodbye to all the people who lost their lives to COVID-19 and other illnesses. 

Many of the people we’re recognizing today did pass from the pandemic. I’ll tell a story of one individual who utilized our services for medical transportation. She passed last fall, her husband passed recently, heartbroken.

Dwayne Pielech, Director of Senior Services of Belmont County

Church services, funerals were stalled for so long that the names of Belmont County’s deceased seniors filled five and a half pages in the bulletin. 

Searching for the faces among the signs, Debbie Turner holds her husband of 50 years in one hand and has yet to find her mom she lost May 13, 2020. 

She had stomach cancer. And my husband died February 21, of this year, 2021. He had brain cancer. 

Debbie Turner, mourning widow and daughter

Debbie says she didn’t get to have that proper funeral service for her mom, nor her husband, because of pandemic restrictions. So, sending the balloons into the sky was like a parting gift. A lift off she believes both of them would have loved. 

The memories came back, which were good memories, except for the deaths. And, to do something like this is special. For that many people, it’s just, I can’t say enough good about it. 

Debbie Turner, mourning widow and daughter

She’s grateful to Senior Services of Belmont County for giving her family a formal goodbye. She says being around others who also experienced loss is medicine for an aching heart. 

Blaine Cordery says most of his friends on the list died from COVID. 

Oh, Oakie Barton was one of my friends. Delmas McVey, Keith Wisor. I know there’s more. Just not coming to mind right now.

Blaine Cordery, mourning friend at Senior Services memorial service

While we’re on our way out of a pandemic, Mr. Cordery says seeing this many names makes you realize the seriousness of the virus. 

“With the suffering they went through, they’re probably in a better place today.” 

Blaine Cordery, mourning friend at Senior Services memorial service

There now rests a plaque at the base of a young oak tree. It was planted when Senior Services of Belmont County started operation. It will now hold the memory of the 278 people lost during this pandemic.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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