NJ firefighter loses wife, brother, 2 other relatives to COVID-19

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A New Jersey man is reeling from the loss of his wife, brother and two other relatives – all of whom died of COVID-19 while living with him, according to a report.

Ed Kemble Jr., 61, of Burlington County was left wondering how his loved ones contracted the dreaded disease and hopes his tragic story pushes others to follow all safety guidelines during the pandemic, NJ.com reports.

“It could’ve come from many different directions. It’s invisible. You can’t see it so you can’t know where it came from,” Kemble Jr., a volunteer firefighter and truck driver, told the news outlet.

“People should be made aware (the virus) is out there. People (should) keep their distance from one another and obey the rules everyone is saying,” Kemble added.

At first, Kemble’s diabetic wife, Barbara, was taken to a hospital in November, when she suffered from dehydration from kidney problems, according to the report.

She was tested for the coronavirus and diagnosed with the disease.

Over the next couple of months, Kemble visited his ailing wife of almost 40 years – dropping off Jersey Mike’s subs and iced tea, but without going inside her room.

On Jan. 16, Barbara died from a stroke.

“All of our lives reflected around the fire company,” the grieving widower said about his wife, who was president of the Washington Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary in Delanco.

 “A lot of times we hung out at the park in town, playing and stuff,” he told NJ.com. “(The coronavirus) contributed to her (health) problems. Her cause of death was a stroke.”

In December, Kemble’s mother-in-law, Ruth Sharp Allen, was hospitalized after developing a pneumonia and cough. She, too, tested positive for COVID-19 and died on Dec. 2 at age 89.

Kemble’s younger brother, John Daniel Kemble, who lost both of legs to diabetes, was then taken to the hospital because he needed emergency dialysis, NJ.com reported.

The brother, a former bus driver who held multiple positions with the Riverside Emergency Squad as an EMT, tested positive for the virus and died of a heart attack on Dec. 7.

And less than a week later, Ruth Allen’s sister Eileen Wolverton — who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the fall — died at Virtua Willingboro Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

Wolverton, a member of the Delanco/Washington Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, had helped take care of Kemble’s bedridden brother, NJ.com reported.

Kemble said he is getting his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday along with the rest of the fire company – but wishes the jabs had been widely available sooner so his family could’ve been protected.  

“They should’ve been (available),” he said. “There would’ve been a hell of a lot of people alive if it was.”

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