POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — A beloved elementary school teacher died on Christmas Day after battling COVID-19, his wife confirmed with 11Alive.
The 53-year-old had been on a ventilator and on life support at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
"Heaven gained the sweetest angel," Priscella Key said in an email. "My beloved Patrick lost his fight with COVID-19. He fought long and hard but his body was too tired to go on."
She said she wants people to know that deaths from COVID-19 are not just numbers.
"I would like very much for the world to know that the numbers of people that have died from COVID-19 are not just numbers, they are real people with heartbroken families," she said.
His niece, Heather Welch, in a statement said: "If you are spending time with your family today, I hope that you cherish it, but I also hope that you are safe and smart, to protect yourself and others."
She echoed her aunt's statements.
"Remember that the numbers you see and hear are real people who deserved to live so much more life, with grieving families who feel lost and said. This is immeasurable grief."
A longtime friend of Key, Merry Mullins, who organized the GoFundMe page, said Patrick is at peace
"Christmas morning Heaven gained the sweetest angel this morning," Mullins said. "He is at peace and we have lost our world. Our hearts are shattered."
Patrick is survived by his wife, Priscella Key, who is an elementary school teacher at a different Cobb school. She was also infected with COVID-19 at the time.
"The world has lost one of the kindest, most gentle loving man. Our family has lost our world and my heart is shattered," Priscella said.
He is a 23-year veteran of the Cobb County school system. He was currently teaching art at the Powder Springs school.
“We are heartbroken for the loss experienced by the Key family and Hendricks Elementary," the district said in a statement. "As students and staff share stories about Patrick’s impact, we ask every student, parent, and staff member to stay as safe and healthy as possible while we beat COVID-19 as a community."