Husband of beloved Florida educator dies from COVID-19 six days after wife


Norma (right) and Elio Reyes Sr. (Courtesy of the Reyes family)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The husband of a beloved Polk County educator has died six days after his wife following their battles with COVID-19.

According to a Facebook post from Purcell Elementary School, Elio Reyes Sr. would always be at the school helping his wife, Norma, with after-school events and was “her worker bee.”

“We are going to miss the love and support of the Reyes family forever and always. Their contributions and bright personalities will shine on in many hearts within this community. Thank you to their family for sharing them with us for all these years. We are blessed to have known them,” the school’s post read.

WFLA spoke earlier this week with the couple’s son, Elio Reyes Jr., who recalled his final FaceTime call with his mom.

“She just said, ‘I love you and I’m very proud of everything,’” he said. “The whole time she kept saying, ‘I’m coming home this weekend. I’m gonna fight, gonna work on my oxygen, come home back to the family being able to make sure everything goes right with your dad.’ I just didn’t think she meant home as in heaven.”

Their daughter, Bryana Reyes, told WFLA she and her parents tested positive for the virus in July before the school year began. She had a mild case, but her mom and dad, both in their early 50s, had trouble breathing and needed to be hospitalized.

Norma and Elio Reyes Sr. had been married for 26 years and were not vaccinated.

A fundraiser has been set up to help the family in memory of the beloved couple.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors in public places when in areas of high transmission.

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