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Vietnam vet and wife married 53 years die days apart

A bouquet of roses, left to remember the dead, adorns the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller/Released)

Edmon C. Carmichael, 79, and Gwendolyn A. Carmichael, 72, met during their teenage years in high school and had been married 53 years before dying one day apart from COVID-19 complications at St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital in Livonia. Edmon died April 13 and Gwendolyn died April 14.

The couple had a passion for people. When you would see one, you’d see the other, according to their son Derrick Carmichael who said, “they were always there for those who needed them.” Before their death, the couple always visited the sick and shut-ins and people in the hospital. They would bring hope, prayer and blessings with them.

Originally from Alabama, the Carmichael’s moved to Detroit and resided in the Rosedale Park community. They were philanthropists and charitable people who were actively involved in church and activities like Meals on Wheels and Rosedale Park Radio Patrol.

Edmon, affectionately known as “Clint,” joined the Army and went to the Vietnam War. After moving to Detroit, he graduated from Shaw College of Detroit and retired from Chrysler after more than 30 years. He was a deacon at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, a Crusaders Sunday school teacher and part of the Masonic Lodge.

Gwendolyn, affectionately known as “Gwen,” received her undergrad degree from Marygrove College and her Master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University. She was an esteemed master quilter who was a part of The Quilting Sisters, a member of the Deaconess board, Crusaders Sunday School, Tuesday Night Women’s Bible Study and an usher at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.

The first week in March, Gwendolyn started not feeling well. She thought she had the flu or some type of bug. Edmon took her to the hospital. The hospital sent her home after tests for pneumonia and influenza came back negative. The test for COVID-19 came back positive after more than a week.

“Which is where I’m sort of distraught with,” said the couple’s son, “because with her being positive there could have been time with her being admitted and then worked on to help her from meeting this demise and also my dad’s.”

The pair was taken to the hospital and admitted March 23. Derrick received a voicemail from his dad that said they were being put on a ventilator and they would be down for a minute and to pray for them and that they would be okay.

The next three weeks, the family received updates about their loved ones from the hospital. The hospital allowed Derrick to have a Zoom call with his dad, who had been unconscious. Once Edmon heard his son’s voice, he woke up and turned his head. Derrick was trying to reassure his dad that his mom was OK and that they were praying for them. He said the doctor stated that they were getting more response out of his dad at that moment than they ever had. In response to the doctor’s statement about his dad responding, Derrick sadly said, “Because they have people that they are aware of communicating with them. It’s sad it has to be like this, but because people are not in these hospital rooms and not able to be there with them they don’t have that drive, that fight, that will to continue to go.”

The Carmichaels leave to cherish their memory: son Derrick (and his wife Melinda); sisters, Lillie M. Charley and Louise Bradley; son-in-law, Neil Branch; granddaughter, Alicia Branch; grandson, Dalon Parks; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Daughter, Delois Branch proceeded them in death.

“They went in willingly, but were unable to come out. That’s the part that’s hurtful,” Derrick sadly said.


© 2020 the Detroit Free Press