Beloved 35-year-old woman first COVID-19 death in White County

WHITE COUNTY, Ark. — Part of our mission in covering coronavirus in Arkansas is showing faces behind the numbers.

This week, the first White County resident lost her battle with COVID-19.

A woman who was adored in her community and by her family.

35-year-old Jeanie Mayrie Chapman died Monday morning. Sunday night, a crowd of loved ones and friends gathered in their cars and trucks outside Unity Hospital in her honor since they couldn’t be inside with her, holding her hand.

We share her photos and her story with permission from her grieving family.

They say she was the kindest soul— her parents joked they should’ve named her “sweetness.”

She had Down’s Syndrome. She’d been in Special Olympics ever since she was a child.

Her favorite thing in the world was her birthday, March 25, a week before she got sick. 

And this year, on her last birthday, the virus stole the family’s chance to have a party for her.

It also robbed them of a funeral and a proper way to grieve. One family member said, “we are southern people. We feed each other and hug when people die.” 

But not in this case.

Since Jeanie lived with her parents David and Irene, they too were sick with COVID-19 but have since recovered, making the grieving process that much tougher.

Her family wants the public to know: this is very real, it can happen to you. It happened to their precious Jeanie. They urge everyone to take it seriously.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeanie’s family and every family who’s lost a loved one to this virus.