Though Sherman Guthrie Price had COVID-19 when he died Monday at age 106, he did not die from it, an important distinction to his grandson, Bowling Green lawyer Mark Alcott.
“The thing that really makes me happy is that my grandfather was so strong that COVID didn’t get him,” Alcott said Tuesday.
Instead, the Logan County farmer died from complications from pneumonia, which he had developed prior to a positive coronavirus test. As one of his doctors put it, Price — whom he calls Granddaddy — “was a tough old cookie,” Alcott said.
But COVID-19, which Alcott said his grandfather acquired during a recent stay at a rehabilitation center while recovering from pneumonia, profoundly affected his final days by keeping him isolated from family and friends except for video visits.
Initially, the family couldn’t visit Price after he was hospitalized about six weeks ago for pneumonia because of a ban on visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. After he later tested positive following a stint in rehab, he was quarantined.
“The COVID story here is the separation,” Alcott said. “It’s just that complete veil of separation that was difficult.”
Price was among 11 deaths the state announced Tuesday of Kentuckians who had tested positive for the virus. By Wednesday, 538 people with COVID-19 had died.
Until recently, Alcott said, Price was active and fairly healthy, still living on his Logan County farm where he once raised crops, cattle, hogs and horses, including Belgian horses he used to haul heavy items on the farm and showed off at community events.
He once used a team of Belgian horses to pull a Civil War cannon for display at the Russellville city square, according to his obituary.
Alcott said Price loved his farm animals, especially his horses and kept horses on the farm until just six years ago, when he turned 100.
He only gave up driving at age 103, and until then, drove himself to breakfast at a local restaurant regularly to hang out with friends.
“Everybody knows Sherman Price,” his grandson said. “That’s the thing about him, he never stopped going.”
Price was born in Auburn, Kentucky, in 1914 and lived in Logan County all his life, except for a brief stint during World War II when he worked in St. Louis as a metallurgist for the war effort, Alcott said. Afterwards, he returned to Russellville in 1947 and took up farming.
He was just 4 years old during the 1918 flu pandemic and recalled that an aunt came to live with his family while she recuperated from it, Alcott said.
After he gave up driving, his friends and family came to him — until the coronavirus pandemic restricted his visitors. But Price was still living independently with the help of an aide until he became ill with pneumonia about six weeks ago and ended up in the hospital, Alcott said.
From there, he went to a Bowling Green rehab center, where the family had hoped he would build up his strength and return home. Instead, the pneumonia returned and he wound up back in the hospital, by then testing positive for COVID and under quarantine, Alcott said.
The family had hoped to resume visits once the infection cleared and the quarantine lifted. Instead, Price’s health worsened, and he died Monday.
While the family is saddened by the loss, it’s also an occasion to recognize his life, Alcott said.
“It’s a time to celebrate his life rather than to mourn him,” Alcott said. “He’s had such a long and good life.”
Price’s funeral service is Thursday, with Summers and Son Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the private funeral is for family only — including a daughter, five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 15 great, great-grandchildren.
Afterwards, a horse-drawn carriage will take Price’s casket to the Memorial Gardens cemetery but will first take a final loop for him around the Russellville town square.
Alcott said he knows his family’s not alone in trying to navigate through loss during a pandemic.
“Every family is dealing with trying to be as normal as possible,” he said. “It just affects everything you do.”