‘HOOSIERS WE’VE LOST’: Grandmother was one of first Hoosiers to die from COVID-19


Editor’s note: This is one of a continuing online series of profiles of the more than 12,000 Hoosiers who have died from COVID-19. The stories are from 12 Indiana newspapers who collaborated to create the collection to highlight the tremendous loss that the pandemic has created. The series appears daily at tribtown.com.

Name: Darlene Spencer

City/Town: Hobart

Age: 59

Died: March 31, 2020

As a grandmother of four, a pastor’s wife, a Hobart church music director and a Hammond school bus monitor, Darlene Spencer wore many hats.

In March, she became one of the first Hoosiers to contract and then die from COVID-19.

Her family remembers her as a loving grandmother who enjoyed summers with her husband and grandchildren at the Jellystone campground in Plymouth.

Her husband, Jeff Spencer, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Hobart, knew Darlene as a sometimes stubborn and hard-headed woman who always thought she was right — and often was.

But she also was the loving and kind grandmotherly type who “adopted” more grandchildren into the family fold just by looking out for people.

She enjoyed bringing goodie bags to hospitalized children at Halloween and raising funds for abused women and children shelters.

Jeff and Darlene both fell ill with COVID-19 in March 2020 and at one point were both hospitalized at the same time, in separate rooms, at Community Hospital in Munster.

Though Darlene was unable to speak in her final days, nurses there used iPhone FaceTime so Jeff could have visual contact with his wife in her final days.

Then doctors told Jeff that Darlene showed no signs of brain activity, and the machines that were sustaining her were shut off.

— Contributed by The Times of Northwest Indiana

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