Family remembers first Lansing prison staff member to die from COVID-19

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 10:01 PM CDT
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A second Lansing Correctional Facility staff member died Wednesday due to COVID-19, two days after the death of a fellow worker at the prison and department of corrections veteran.

The family of 61-year-old George ‘Bernie’ Robare, who died Monday, says they’re too busy grieving their loved one to be bitter and frustrated. However, they do think more could have been done in the effort to protect the prison's staff.

“They could’ve done more, make sure they’re helping support their staff in this time. Lansing’s handling it the best they can and I know that they’re going to try to do more," Robare's daughter, Rachel Robare says. “I’ve lost a father and there’s a void there that’s not going to be able to be filled again."

It’s a loss Rachel never expected.

She says her father had all the symptoms of COVID-19 and he was tested for the virus in Wyandotte County. On April 24, his results came back positive.

“I expected him to live to be in his 90's," Rachel says.

She says her father had already fought Leukemia and issues with his esophagus, but overall, he was healthy.

Rachel had to postpone her May 2 wedding because of COVID-19 but she never thought it would take her father too.

“Now the fact that he’s gone, I can’t have him here to walk me down the aisle. He won’t get to be a grandfather. It’s going to be a hard day,” Rachel says.

She knows it’s going to be hard not having her dad around for life’s milestones, but she says the hardest part was not being able to speak to him after he was intubated on May 5..

Rachel and her mother just wanted to make sure Bernie was comfortable.

“Once he passed and they put him in the body bag, we couldn’t see him again. We couldn’t touch him, we couldn’t say our goodbyes at that point either. It was a real struggle being told that," she says.

Bernie was a former marine and volleyball referee for the state of Kansas.

A memorial service will be held July 18 in Kansas City.

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