John Michael Finster

The late John Michael Finster fishing, which was one of his favorite hobbies. (Contributed photo)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) claimed the life of Seadrift resident John Michael Finster, but his memory will live on as a husband, father, and hard worker rather than a victim.

Finster, 65, known as Mike by most people, worked for King Fisher Marine for 33 years and afterward was an independent pipeline inspector for 10 years.

He was the husband to Debra Finster, both of Seadrift and the father of three children.

Mike was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) approximately four years ago and had been battling the disease on and off.

According to Mike’s wife, Debra Finster, he had been out of the hospital for two years, but then, all of a sudden, from December to April, he was in and out of the hospital.

On April 2, he was transferred to Citizens Medical Center in Victoria after getting winded during physical therapy at a nursing facility.

Debra explained that Mike had finally started to sound better with a stronger voice and was calling friends and joking with them up to the day he went to the hospital on April 2.

Upon arriving at Citizens Medical Center, Mike was diagnosed with a touch of pneumonia and COPD aspirations, but they proceeded to test him for coronavirus, Debra said.

On April 5, Mike tested positive for coronavirus, and Debra stated, at this time, they have not yet tracked down where he contracted it.

On the afternoon of being tested positive, or the next day, Mike had more difficulty breathing and increased anxiety that went along with having coronavirus, Debra said.

“He never wanted to be intubated. They were using a BiPAP facemask to push the air in and out,” she said.

Within a few days, they increased Mike’s morphine to keep the anxiety and worry down. Then he was transferred to a Post Acute Medical (PAM) facility in Victoria that houses positive coronavirus patients in one facility.

April 10 was the last time Debra was able to talk to Mike because every time they talked, he would get winded.

“We didn’t get to talk for the last four or five days,” Debra said.

According to Debra, he had a couple of horrible days until they got the morphine dosage right.

“It wasn’t pleasant for him, but I don’t think he knew what was going on the last couple of days,” Debra said.

Not being able to see Mike before he passed away was the worst part for Debra. She even offered to suit up in Personal Protective Equipment but was denied the opportunity to see him.

“They told me no. It was horrible. You worry about him being alone,” Debra said.

Through her close experience with the coronavirus, she explained that nobody would want to go through it.

“You don’t want to go through this, whether it is a mild or severe case. Whether you are a healthy person or an unhealthy person because it is not pleasant,” Debra stated. “I know that so many young people think they have nothing to worry about, but they have grandparents and neighbors or come in contact with another person who has grandparents that they could spread it to.”

Mike Finster was the first reported coronavirus related death in Calhoun County. The county currently has 21 confirmed positive cases, with 10 recovered, 10 active, and one death. Although Debra no longer has her husband physically with her, she reminisced on the time they did have together.

“He loved a good joke. He was a prankster and liked a good laugh. That was him,” Debra said.

Mike loved fishing, and although he and Debra did not go often, Debra said they loved just going and enjoying the scenery.

“It was usually him and me. He always wanted to go when the sun was coming up, while drinking coffee or cocoa, holding a rod,” Debra said.