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Family mourning loss of Orange Park man who died of COVID-19: 'We want people to know that our father was selfless.'

Jerry Nicholas was a husband, father of four and grandfather of five. A church elder, his son said he went out of his way to help others.
Credit: Christopher Nicholas
Jerry Nicholas, 54, died after contracting COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Jerry Nicholas, 54, was a husband, father of four and grandfather of five. A church elder at Freedom Ministries in Orange Park, his son said he went out of his way to help anyone no matter what they needed.

“He loved to feed people in need and tell them about God,” Christopher Nicholas. “He was always trying to spread the gospel no matter what. He always had a smile on his face no matter what he was going through in good times and in bad he smiled through it.”

Days before Easter, Jerry Nicholas’ health started to decline. His wife drove him to St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital where he was diagnosed with COVID-19. That was the last time she saw him alive.

On April 10 he was placed on a ventilator and remained in the Intensive Care Unit in isolation until his death. His family prayed that a plasma transfusion from someone who had recovered from the coronavirus would restore his health.

“We weren’t getting the best news, but on April 18 after receiving his plasma treatment he started to improve slowly. On April 25, the day before he passed, they lowered the ventilator and he was breathing on his own for most of the whole day,” Christopher Nicholas recalled. “That night they told us that they were planning to remove the ventilator the next day. We were so happy for the first time in three weeks.”

The next morning at 9:50 a.m. the phone rang. It was a nurse caring for his father.

“She told my mom that my dad has passed away. We were completely shocked. It didn’t make any sense. The nurse told my mother that around 5 a.m. his heart stopped beating, but they were able to resuscitate him,” Christopher Nicholas said “They said it happened again at 9:45 a.m. and they were not successful in resuscitating him for the second time. She told my mother that they would allow one person to come see him now that he had passed.”

Jerry Nicholas’ wife, Sonya Nicholas, was alone when she got the news her husband has passed away. She drove herself to the hospital to say goodbye.

“This has been extremely hard because my sisters and I have not been able to see each other or our mother during this time. We have not been able to hug each other or cry together. We all have to grieve alone,” Christopher Nicholas said, “This is something that no person should go through. We were not able to have a funeral for him, but we had a memorial for him at the cemetery for myself, my sister and my mom and we had to stand 10 feet apart from each other.”

Because Sonya Nicholas saw her husband after he died in the hospital her son said she now must quarantine for another two weeks.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me how the hospitals will not let you see your loved ones while they are alive not to put you in danger, but they will let you see them when they are gone and still put you in jeopardy. Something must be done to fix this terrible loophole,” Christopher Nicholas said.

The family has started a Go Fund Me page to help with the expenses they are now left to pay. 

“We want people to know that our father was selfless. The best person you could ever hope to know.”  

Credit: Christopher Nicholas
Jerry Nicholas' family said he loved to pray with people.
Credit: Christopher Nicholas
Jerry Nicholas' family said he loved to feed and pray with those in need.