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‘We’re so sorry we can’t be there’: Alabama veteran dies of coronavirus quarantined from family

Folded flag resting on a headstone. (MaxPixel/Released/TNS)

To those who knew him, Albert Johnson Trousdale was simply known as Johnson.

The Elgin resident was one of the first casualties of the coronavirus pandemic in Alabama. He was 78.

Trousdale died early March 26 at Huntsville Hospital, just five days after he was diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19, his family announced on a Facebook page updating his battle with and effort to recover from the disease.

“Johnson went to join Nicky (his late son) in Heaven this morning,” the family posted on the Facebook page Thursday. “He will be missed by so many people. Please pray for Nancy, Julie, Matt and Nicole.”

A 21-year veteran of the United States Army and Alabama National Guard, Trousdale also spent 31 years working for Monsanto in Decatur before retiring.

He also ran a home improvement business for several years and was an active member of Elgin Church of Christ. His son, Matthew, told WAAY 31 last week that Trousdale maintained a “pretty healthy” lifestyle and ran about 6 miles a day, though he experienced some heart problems in the past and underwent hip replacement surgery in January.

According to his family, Trousdale began running a fever on March 9 and his leg began to swell, but he did not have a cough or exhibit other symptoms of the virus. He was admitted to Huntsville Hospital a week later, when doctors discovered blood clots in his ankle and groin area, with one of them moving to his lungs, resulting in the development of pneumonia.

He was tested for coronavirus on March 19 and put in isolation. That night, he had trouble breathing and was intubated but was resting well the following morning. Two days later, the test results came back; Trousdale tested positive for coronavirus and was in critical but stable condition.

His family chronicled Trousdale’s battle with the virus over the next several days via the Facebook page, all the while remaining in quarantine themselves.

“It’s just hard with my daddy up there and we can’t be with him,” his daughter, Julie Trousdale, told the Times Daily. “That’s the hardest part. We’re all quarantined and separated. We’re just praying and hoping that he makes it up there without anybody’s support.”

Trousdale was placed on a ventilator and given an experimental drug, according to posts by his family, and he was also placed in a medically induced deep sleep to keep him from fighting the ventilator and trying to out-breathe it. On March 25, Trousdale took a “turn for the worst,” according to the family.

In Trousdale’s final moments, a nurse FaceTimed with the family to allow them to say their goodbyes and see what was happening, according to WAAY 31, since they were unable to be by his side in the hospital due to regulations stemming from the contagiousness of the virus.

“I ended up telling him, I said Nancy loves you, Matt loves you, Julie loves you, and I love you, and we’re so sorry we can’t be there because we wanted one last message,” his daughter in-law, Nicole, told WAAY 31.

Trousdale is survived by his wife of 62 years, Nancy Butler Trousdale; his daughter, Julie Ann Trousdale; son, Matthew Zane Trousdale; daughter in-law, Nicole Allen Trousdale; granddaughter, April Nicole Trousdale; sister, Rosa Lee Garcia; brother in-law, Albert Garcia, and “too many nieces and nephews to name.”

Trousdale’s family is also urging everyone to abide by social distancing guidelines and do their part to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Please, everyone take it seriously and stay at home,” Nicole told the Times Daily last week.


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