Only 17 people were at Moser Funeral home in Warrenton on May 15 to attend the funeral of Milford “Glen” Cordell of Casanova. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, his wife Carol believes there would have been more than 200 attending. Cordell coached youth sports in Vienna for more than 40 years and was inducted into the Vienna Baseball Hall of Fame and the Washington Home Plate Club for his contributions to the game.
Cordell had been a resident of the memory care unit at The Wellington at Lake Manassas in Gainesville for the last year, after suffering two strokes. He first showed symptoms of COVID-19 on May 3 and died exactly one week later.
Carol Cordell said, “On Sunday [May 3], he had a slight fever and his oxygen levels were dropping, but he was eating and doing well, they told me. After a day or two, his fever went up to 104 and his oxygen levels kept dropping. They took him to Heathcote [Haymarket Medical Center], but … they transferred him to Prince William [Novant Health UVA Prince William Medical Center]. He died on May 10.”
Cordell hadn’t seen her husband -- except through a window of his room at The Wellington – for two months. “I would go to see him every day, but when I went there on March 5, the door was locked. They had everything locked down. Only staff members were allowed in. They wouldn’t even let deliveries in.”
She said she visited her husband once a week after that and was able to see him through a window. “They would open the window a couple of inches so I could talk to him,” she said.
Cordell said that she understands that her husband caught the virus from a woman in the memory care unit who had symptoms of COVID-19. “She and Glen died the same day,” said Cordell.
Beth Kolnok, corporate director of communications and public relations for The Wellington, on Tuesday provided an update on the current situation in the memory unit: “Our memory care unit currently has 10 residents. All were tested on or before May 14 and we are currently caring for three residents who have tested positive for the virus. They are asymptomatic and we hope to clear them soon.”
Cordell said she has not been able to reach anyone at Wellington to arrange to pick up her husband’s belongings. “They could just put everything outside and I’d pick it up,” she offered.
The Cordells moved to Casanova four years ago from Vienna. “I love it here. My daughter said that Glen told her he was glad we moved out here. He said when he was gone, I would be safe among the kind people in Casanova. He always said he wanted to go before me.”
Although the two strokes had left her husband with significant brain damage, Cordell remembered, “Every time I’d visit, he’d tell me he loved me. The last time I was there he said, ‘Little Carol, I loved her so much.’”
Carol Cordell said she is feeling “OK.” She may drive down to a beach house in Myrtle Beach, but says she is very careful about avoiding exposure to COVID-19. “I haven’t been in a grocery store for two months. My kids shop for me.” Cordell has a daughter, Kimberly Ashley, who lives in Fairfax, a son Gary, in Purcellville and another son, Gregory, in Haymarket. She also has six grandchildren. “They all help,” she said.
Although Carol Cordell was not able to see her husband before he passed away, her son Greg and his wife Michelle were able to be with him before he died. “They felt that the risk would be too high for me to see him, but Greg and Michelle got all suited up and were able to say goodbye,” said Carol Cordell.
Greg Cordell is a deputy sheriff in Fairfax and his wife Michelle works for Giant. He explained, “We are both out and exposed every day, but Mom was too high-risk.”
Michelle Cordell got the call May 9 from Prince William Hospital asking if there was someone who wanted to come. Greg Cordell said, “She called me and said, ‘Meet me at the hospital right away so we can say goodbye to your dad.’”
He remembered, “They met us in the lobby and gave us plastic gowns, N95 masks, a face shield and gloves. They told us there was nothing more they could do for my dad and they were going to lose him.”
Greg Cordell said he is grateful he was able to see his father again. “It really helped me, but I felt guilty that my mom and brother and sister didn’t have the opportunity. ... We hadn’t seen him for three months. I was afraid he was confused. My mom had never left his side for 50 years. I didn’t want him to think we’d abandoned him.”
He said that his father wasn’t on a ventilator. “He looked comfortable, peaceful.” Greg Cordell said his father was asleep, but he told him his family hadn’t abandoned him, that they loved him.
Greg Cordell said his dad had suffered from diabetes and leukemia. “He hadn’t been himself for a year, since he had the two strokes.”
“I told him it was OK to rest and we knew he’d be in a better place.”
Glen Cordell died the next day at the age of 79. He was an outdoorsman who loved boating, fishing and gardening, and is remembered fondly by those who knew him, said his wife.
Greg Cordell said his father’s father was an alcoholic. “But I never saw my dad take a drink. He worked three jobs so that we would have everything we needed. He broke that chain.
“When we were younger, all the kids wanted to be on his baseball and football teams. He had an amazing work ethic. I don’t know how he found time to work three jobs, and coach all those teams. And he loved his ¼-acre garden.”
Grandson Darien Ashley wrote, “My grandfather was a timeless soul. The type of man that communities have depended upon since time immemorial. His archetype is that of the unconditionally affectionate patriarch who extends his nurturing tenderness to all who surround him.
“… As a youth, nothing injected the world with mystery like wandering the narrow rows of my grandfather's garden. … A man is made in his actions, what he continually does, he becomes. It is through this imitation of my grandfather's character that his presence will continue to persist in this realm as his spirit moves to the next.”
Glen Cordell was buried at Brightview Cemetery May 15, after an hour-long viewing at Moser. His wife is glad they were able to hold a funeral. “I was glad to be able to see him one last time. He looked so peaceful and seemed 30 years younger. It was good for me to be able to get closure.”
Reach Robin Earl at email@example.com