Love in the Time of COVID: EAMC helps couple celebrate 65th wedding anniversary

Alabama News

OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – A heartwarming story out of East Alabama Medical Center is highlighting love in the time of COVID-19. The Opelika hospital staff ensured an Auburn couple could celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary as they recover from COVID-19.

Retired 87-year-old Colonel Ollie Edwards and his 83-year-old bride Virginia are celebrating six and half decades of devotion side by side at EAMC. The hospital’s efforts to help them celebrate highlights the care and compassion COVID-19 patients and their families continue to find at EAMC.

“My mom was admitted to the hospital almost two weeks ago, and my dad just went in this past weekend,” said the couple’s daughter Sherry Edwards.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Auburn couple was recuperating apart and worried they’d spend their anniversary separated and alone.

“It was breaking my mom’s heart. They could not be together because they are down the floor from one another, but the hospital made it happen,” shared Edwards.

The Edwards family says EAMC went above and beyond from decorations, an early dinner, and dessert.

“I could tell my mom was so touched with by what they did. We were as well as the three kids were able to facetime with them. They had a cake, the hospital gave them flowers, we had sent flowers, and they had a special meal prepared. My mom looked so nice. The staff had helped her brush her hair and get ready,” shared Edwards.

Thankfully, Virginia is feeling much better. Colonel Ollie remains very ill. However, on Thursday, they celebrated a marriage milestone together, and here’s praying, love is the best medicine.

EAMC shared more information from Thursday’s anniversary celebration:


Colonel Ollie Herbert Edwards and his wife, Virginia Mitchell Edwards, had a special lunch date today, complete with chocolate cake. Because they live in the same household, they didn’t have to remain six feet apart as COVID-19 guidelines recommend. However, their servers—a nurse and an MCT—were dressed out in full PPE (personal protective equipment). That’s because the Edwards are both hospitalized at East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) with COVID-19.

The couple, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary today, are four years apart in age, and four rooms apart in the hospital. However, EAMC employees moved 83-year-old Virginia into the patient room of 87-year-old Herbert at 11:30 today for the couple to enjoy a special anniversary lunch together.

Along with the special lunch, the couple was showered with balloons, flowers, decorations, and an anniversary card signed by employees. Plus, all three of their children—Sherry, Gary and Candy, and some of their five grandchildren—were connected to the celebration through FaceTime.

Today marked the first time the Auburn couple has seen each other since June 5 when Virginia was admitted to the hospital. The Edwards family believe Virginia contracted COVID-19 when she was out of town recently. Virginia was still asymptomatic when she returned home. By the time she began showing symptoms, Ollie had contracted the virus. He joined her as a patient at EAMC on June 14.

The Edwards both grew up in West Point, Mississippi, and they married less than one month after Virginia graduated high school. Ollie was already a lieutenant in the Air Force and their “honeymoon” consisted of a drive to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Ollie was stationed at the Air Force Base just outside of town. On the way, they stopped at a burger joint for a wedding night dinner of hamburgers and milkshakes. From there, the Edwards were on their way to a successful life together.

Ollie earned two degrees from Auburn University: a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. His military career spanned 24 years and included wartime flights over Vietnam while he was based in Thailand. Upon returning to the United States after the Vietnam War, the majority of his military years were spent at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

While there, Virginia earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Wright State University. Ollie and Virginia were also busy with their three children—two daughters and a son. Ollie rose through the ranks during that time and retired in 1977 as Colonel Ollie Edwards. At that point, the Edwards family moved back to their beloved Auburn.

Upon returning, the Edwards immersed themselves in the community and the university. Colonel Ollie flew a private jet for Auburn University for a while, then taught aviation management courses and served as an instructor pilot for the Aviation Management Department at the university, retiring in 1994. Virginia earned her master’s in education degree at Auburn. She taught English at Notasulga High School for many years before retiring in 1996.

The Edwards both have COVID-19, but they also have 65 years of resiliency at their back. They’ve seen a lot over six-plus decades. The COVID-19 pandemic tried to keep them apart today, but it failed. It only crashed their party and brought them closer.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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