COVID-19 death reminds us to be safe, thankful

Fire Lt. Don Beauchene’s professional work ethic helped propel the firefighter quickly upward through the ranks at Warren Fire Department, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said last week.

But it was Don’s big heart and devotion on a personal level that reflected the kind of man he was beneath his turnout gear.

Lt. Beauchene, 54, departed this earth way too soon last week after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He passed away Tuesday after he began feeling ill about two weeks prior and after several local firefighters had been exposed to the virus.

“He started having cold symptoms,” said his wife, Michelle. “He had coughs, sinus problems and a runny nose.”

Michelle talked him into going to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19, pneumonia and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He was given medication, and Michelle bought her husband vitamins. He quarantined at home.

The story is similar to those many of us have experienced since the onset of COVID-19 early this year.

But when Don was found unresponsive Nov. 14, he went back to the emergency room, and this time was admitted to the hospital for treatment. His lungs were filled with infection.

He died Tuesday, leaving behind a wife and 10 children, including four the couple had adopted in recent years after some of their biological children were grown — a time when many of us would think our job of raising kids was done and it was time to rest.

Instead, Lt. Beauchene and Michelle knew there were four children who needed them, and they accepted the calling.

Lt. Beauchene worked for the Warren Fire Department for more than 25 years. Warren Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert called him a “shining star.” Don often helped train new firefighters.

He volunteered after Hurricane Katrina by traveling to Texas to provide whatever help he could.

Then in 2017 and in 2018, he and his wife adopted four children who were biological siblings, including one young girl who had gained much media attention when, as a foster child in Trumbull County, she was in critical need of a liver transplant.

The family did not hesitate to welcome her and her three siblings into their home and into their hearts.

Lt. Beauchene’s passing should serve as a reminder to all of us that nothing ever should be taken for granted.

While many people infected with the COVID-19 virus may never show a symptom, and others may feel only mild fever or illness, others, like Lt. Beauchene, may be affected so harshly that they may never recover.

It is critical that we all bear this in mind and follow the recommendations and guidelines offered by health experts who, like all of us, desire a swift end to this pandemic.

We must remember proper and frequent hand washing and social distancing. We must wear a mask in public, but we should not rely on that mask as a guarantee of safety against the spread of this deadly virus. We all must have constant vigilance.

And we must pray for those we love who have encountered this illness.

This Thursday, the Beauchene family will mark the Thanksgiving holiday with, as the lieutenant’s wife so sadly described, holes in their hearts. Certainly, they will give thanks for the time they had with their loved one.

Likewise, we all must spend the day celebrating the ones we love, whether we gather together or mark the event from afar.

May all those who tragically have been lost to COVID-19 this year — including Lt. Beauchene — be forever in our hearts and rest in peace.



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