PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.—Family and friends are mourning the sudden loss of a Clearwater High School teacher just days before Christmas. Rosemary Collins’ family says she passed away Tuesday after being diagnosed with COVID-19 the day before.
“There’s no preparation,” said Ann Adair, Collins’ sister. “We all know people that have tested positive, and they might have like a cold or they’re tired or whatever, but this was not that.”
Collins, 51, was a chorus teacher at Clearwater High School. Pinellas County Schools says she joined Clearwater High in 2018 and had taught with the district at other schools as well. Collins also served as music director at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater.
Adair explains her sister started feeling tired after directing music at church on Sunday. She says a day later, Collins tested positive for COVID-19 and went to the hospital by ambulance Tuesday morning.
“First symptom Sunday, tested positive Monday, died Tuesday,” said Adair. “That timeline should be enough sobering material to shake somebody awake.”
Trinity Presbyterian pastor Andrew Walton says they have not had in-person worship in their sanctuary since March, instead offering a livestream service every Sunday morning. Walton called Collins an integral part of the worship team. He recalls Collins preparing for the Christmas Eve service this Sunday.
“On Monday afternoon, our associate pastor and I received an email from Rosemary that said, ‘I have some terrible news. I tested positive for COVID,” said Walton.
Walton says the news of her passing so suddenly the next day doesn’t seem real. He remembered her as an incredible talent with a deep love for her family.
“Our pain is real and our grief is deep, but our joy at having known her and loved her and worked with her is overflowing,” said Walton.
Adair says her sister was a beloved mother and wife and loved teaching. During this global health crisis, Adair urges people to put others first. She reminded people having virtual gatherings like a zoom meeting for Christmas is still okay.
“No, it’s not the same. It’s not going to be the same for a while,” said Adair. “It’s okay. The most important thing is I would like to have my sister here with me for this holiday.”
Adair says her sister did not have underlying conditions. A Pinellas County Schools spokesperson told ABC Action news they will provide crisis counselors for students when school resumes.