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Faces of COVID: Woman remembered for her independence and strength

Bertha Lee Manley died of COVID-19 in April 2020
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Posted at 7:30 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 20:36:27-05

Thousands of Hoosiers have died since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 and we know — they're more than just numbers. If you've lost a loved one to COVID-19 and want to share their story reach out to us at FacesOfCovid@wrtv.com.

Bertha Lee Manley was a tough and independent woman.

“She was real strong, and feisty, too,” said her daughter, Ellen Gardner.

Gardner said her mother had to be this way as she was a single mother, working several jobs for much of her life.

“My dad passed when I was 12, so she did it all on her own. Raised six kids, but she got it done,” Gardner said.

On top of her strength, she was also caring and loving.

“She loved everybody,” Gardner said.

A few years ago, Manley was diagnosed with dementia. Gardner said up until then her mother lived with her, but then as her dementia grew worse, a decision had to be made.

“She started falling, and when she started falling I put her in a nursing home because I was scared she was going to fall and hurt herself,” Gardner said.

Before the pandemic, Gardner would still spend a lot of time with her mother. Traveling to the nursing home where she lived often.

“I would go out there just about every day or every other day to stay out there with her, bring her food and stuff, feed her,” Gardner said.

But in March of last year, the pandemic hit and Gardner was no longer able to visit.

“I didn’t get to see her nothing but once after they said the coronavirus struck,” Gardner said.

In April 2020, Gardner received a phone call from the nursing home that her mother had caught COVID-19. She was moved to the coronavirus unit and eventually taken to the hospital.

“They called me about 7:30 in the morning and told me that she had taken a turn for the worse,” Gardner said.

Gardner went to meet her mother at the hospital and was told that Manley’s heart had stopped on the way there. She was revived just long enough for Gardner to say goodbye.

“I did get to see her before she closed her eyes for the last time,” Gardner said.

Bertha Lee Manley passed away on April 30, 2020. She was 85 years old.