A South Carolina mother and daughter teaching duo were buried on Saturday after both contracted COVID-19 and died, weeks apart.
Shirley Bannister, the 57-year-old chair of a nursing department, died on September 27.
She tested positive on September 7 – the day her only child, Demetria Bannister, 28, an elementary school teacher, died.
The pair were described as inseparable by Dennis Bell, Shirley’s brother, who paid tribute to ‘loving and driven women’.
As well as both being teachers they were avid scrapbookers, loved planning family gatherings, and were ‘the light of any room,’ he said, according to NBC.
Demetria was a third grade teacher, starting her fifth year of teaching at Windsor Elementary School in Columbia.
Her passion for teaching came from her mother, Bell said.
‘Demetria was almost a spitting image of Shirley — in her mannerisms and the way she carried herself.
‘She loved mentoring kids and making learning fun.
‘She wanted to transfer that energy and passion to younger people.’
Denise Quickel, the school’s principal, said she was ‘Windsor’s Songbird’ for her role leading the student choir, her participation in student shows, her hosting of a student club for aspiring singers, and her participation in talent shows.
‘Ms Bannister loved her students and never missed an opportunity to advocate for students and public education,’ Quickel said.
She was last in the school on August 28 and all cleaning protocols were followed, the school district said.
The school year started remotely, but she tested positive on September 4 and was taken to hospital, dying three days later.
Her mother, Shirley, the second youngest of six siblings, was described by Bell, her brother, as a ‘mother figure’ to all.
Even as a child she would care for others, he said, and eventually ended up taking care of their aging mother.
‘She was a confidante, the kind of person you would go to with problems, and she would be like your own personal sounding board, a great listener,’ he said.
Aged 19, she received a licensed practicing nurse degree from Midlands Technical College in Columbia.
She continued working as a nurse in the gerontology department for 30 years before becoming head of the nursing department at Midlands, which she did for seven years.
One former student, Kenyatta Hicks, wrote on Instagram that Shirley helped her through a tough time, providing her school books when she couldn’t afford them.
‘Truly my inspiration and now you’re my angel,’ she wrote.
Shirley had diabetes and asthma before she reported COVID-19 symptoms.
She was in hospital for a week before her death.
On Friday Congressman James Clyburn, who represents South Carolina, told a congressional hearing their story.
‘Demi was a 28-year-old third grade teacher in my home state, in my home town.
‘She tested positive after returning to school for training, and died three days later.
‘Last Sunday Demi’s mother Shirley died. She tested positive the day her daughter died.
‘Tragically it is not hard to see why Americans like … Demi and Shirley were more likely to die than people in other countries.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Harriet Alexander