Valley remembers those lost to COVID
YOUNGSTOWN — The numbers added daily to the death toll in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are just cold statistics.
Behind them, of course, are wellsprings of emotions as Mahoning Valley families begin to remember loved ones and their contributions to communities.
On Wednesday, Mark Mangie of Canfield died at St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital after being diagnosed with the virus a week ago. And George Culetsu, a Trumbull County maintenance worker, also died at St. Joseph Warren Hospital.
Mark Eckert of Canfield, former owner of Eckert Interiors, died Sunday of COVID-19 at the Cleveland Clinic.
Mangie, 70, had been feeling ill about six days before Wednesday, but his symptoms “seemed like something else,” his wife, Ginger Mangie, told the newspaper Wednesday evening. “It didn’t seem like corona.”
A Boardman High School graduate, Mangie was a private-practice attorney in the Youngstown area for about 45 years and served as treasurer for the Mahoning County Republican Party starting in 2013.
He was co-chairman of Youngstown Power of the Arts and chairman of the Youngstown Symphony Society.
“He always wanted to do good for Youngstown,” Ginger said. “He always supported the arts.”
Mark Monroe, former Mahoning County Republican Party chairman, said he and Mangie “got involved as young Republicans 40 years ago. Being Republicans in the Valley, that’s not always an easy thing.”
Monroe said the virus has taken on new meaning in recent weeks. “We’ve been hearing about the coronavirus, and now it’s affecting someone I know personally. And by the end, that will probably be the case with everyone in America. Unfortunately, this may only be the start.”
Family and friends of Culetsu, 67, of Warren, an employee of the Trumbull County maintenance department, asked throughout the day Wednesday for prayers for Culetsu, his wife Irene, and others in the family after he was hospitalized at St. Joseph Warren Hospital with the virus.
Late Wednesday, friends confirmed that he died.
Irene, her sons and the girlfriend of a son have all tested positive for the virus. None in the family was able to see George in recent days.
“Not being able to hold him or talk to him, it’s a nightmare,” said Irene, a teacher in Niles City Schools.
Irene’s Facebook page is full of well wishes and prayers from friends and family.
“Please pray for my friends Irene Magiassos Culetsu and her family. They need a miracle,” one friend posted.
“Praying for George and his family. Prayers Irene Magiassos Culetsu. God heal this family.”
Eckert, after leaving the furniture business, was digital sales manager for The Vindicator Printing Co. until it ceased daily operations in Youngstown last summer.
Several weeks ago, Eckert, 61, didn’t feel right, said his son, Zach Eckert.
“He had trouble walking across the living room without getting winded. He had made the statement to me that walking 10 feet was like walking 100 feet.”
His father was tested in Cleveland on March 17. On March 24, he was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Cleveland Clinic, Zach Eckert told 21-WFMJ TV.
The Eckert family was only able to communicate with him through video calls. Personal visits were not allowed.
Mark Eckert operated Eckert Interiors for more than 30 years until the business closed in 2010. He worked at The Vindicator Printing Co. until last September, when he went to work for an online news organization.
Zach Eckert said he hopes his father’s death will increase people’s understanding of the things everyone must do to preserve life: “I hope we can use this and turn my dad’s death into an aid where we can start listening to data, doctors, starting to listen to science, and not really downplay this but understand that it is serious, serious stuff.”
The Eckert family is quarantining itself and will have a memorial to celebrate Mark’s life later this year.