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‘They both just lived for their families’: best friends die besides COVID

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two fathers and grandfathers linked to a Minnesota family have died from COVID-19 within days of each other.

This is the sad reality for a family near Mora. They shared with the WCCO the loss they suffered when the state hit its pandemic peak in November.

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“It gives a whole new perspective to life. You know, the things that I thought were just the worst things are not nothing anymore, you know, after that, ”said Chris Joos.

Chris and Perry grew up in love with high school in Ogilvie, Minnesota. Their fathers started talking years ago when they got married.

“I remember it like it was yesterday because his dad said to my dad, ‘Someday, Tom, we’ll be best friends’, and I’ll never forget my dad, he said,’ Yeah, no , that will never happen, ”Chris said.

Wally Joos and Tom Koep (credit: Chris Joos)

As fate willed it, he did. Following divorce and loss, Chris ‘father Tom Koep eventually married Wally Joos’ sister, bringing the family even closer together. The two couples stayed tight, and when COVID-19 hit last spring, they decided to keep each other in their bubble.

However, at the end of October, as cases started to climb again, all four were sick and in hospital. Tom was diabetic and intubated at North Memorial Health Hospital. His ICU nurses wishing him a happy 75th birthday the only way they knew how.

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“Finally, when the phone rang at 1:21 am that morning, I unfortunately knew exactly what I was going to say, unfortunately,” Chris said.

Her father died on November 19. Wally followed 12 days later at the University of Minnesota Medical Center at the age of 77.

“They both lived just for their families. It was their whole life, ”said Joos.

She’s still trying to figure out how the diagnosis can mean so many different things. Mainly, why did that mean their families’ foundations are gone.

“Things that we thought were important last year just aren’t,” she said.

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To honor Wally and Tom, the families have formed a non-profit organization to raise funds for a family in need in Kanebec County each Christmas. Click here to find out more.


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