‘He will be forever missed’: Two NC brothers battled COVID-19 one year apart, only one survived


GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — One year after he battled COVID-19 in Cone Health’s Green Valley Campus, Hayward Parker is mourning the loss of his brother to the same virus. 

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Roderick Parker, 51, called “Duck” by family and friends, died on Aug. 15 after spending five days on a ventilator. 

“He brought joy to the world. He made everybody laugh. He was a good-spirited guy. He will be forever missed in this lifetime. I loved him,” Hayward said.

Hayward himself contracted the virus in the late summer of 2020.  

“I ended up on a ventilator for four and a half weeks, and they were saying that I wasn’t going to make it through the night. With God’s help I’m here today,” he said.

Hayward had to relearn how to walk and gained back the 40 pounds he lost while in the hospital.  

After a long recovery, he was vaccinated against COVID-19 in March of 2021 and urged Roderick to do the same. 

His brother had a history of high blood pressure and diabetes. 

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“He caught COVID in July. He was feeling bad. He went to the hospital. They admitted him. They actually released him twice. They released him, but…they found he had a hole in his lung,” Hayward said. “He was fighting as much as he could, but it was always he couldn’t breathe. His breathing wasn’t right”   

Carrying his own laminated vaccine card, the 53-year-old wishes he could have done more to convince his little brother to take the shot. 

“Just last year, I’m going through COVID on the ventilator then a year later my brother passes from it. I’m having psychological stuff I’m dealing with pertaining to that,” he said. “I definitely have guilt. If I just went and got him and took him and put him in the car myself.”   

Family members celebrated Roderick’s life over the weekend. He leaves behind a wife, three children and one granddaughter.  

Hayward urged others to take the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves before it’s too late. 

“I look at it like my brother and I were sacrificial to show that COVID exists, right? My brother is no longer with us…I just want the world and people to get the vaccination where you can at least have the chance to live,” he said.

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