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Iowan Loses Father and Brother to COVID-19


IOWA — It was bad enough for Marty Blubaugh that he had to say goodbye to his father last month, but now he must attend the funeral of his brother.

Marty’s father and brother are among the hundreds of Iowans lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marty reflected on the full lives both his father and brother lived.

Marty’s father, Gene Blubaugh, grew up in the Clarke County town of Weldon. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army.

“When they were able to go on leave from the military, he and his buddies would ride the rail cars to get from one city to another city and travel the countryside visiting all the major cities. For a guy who grew up dirt poor in Iowa, that was a lot of fun for him. He was an adventurous soul,” said Marty.

Marty says his father loved to travel. He visited 49 of the 50 states. “He actually drove his car from Des Moines clear up to the Alaska Highway,” said Marty.  He said he traveled by car because he wasn’t fond of flying. “He said ‘if they ever build a bridge to Hawaii, I’ll be the first one to drive there,’” said Marty.

When at home, Gene enjoyed entertaining. “They were always hosting kaffeeklatsches,” said Marty. 

Gene, most recently a resident of Bishop Drumm Retirement Center, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late April. Marty’s brother, Mick, was by his side when he died on April 26.

“He did not want my father to be alone when he passed,” said Marty. 

Days later, Mick was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“The real irony is that the evening before my father’s funeral, my brother got his test results back that he was positive. And so my brother was not able to attend his own father’s funeral. And then my brother was dead seven days later,” said Marty. 

Mick died in his sleep in the early morning hours of May 11.

“Mick was a great older brother,” said Marty.  “He would give you the shirt off his back.” 

That generosity and kindness will be missed by many. 

“He had a lot of friends. And he just loved laughter. He loved joy, he loved life,” said Marty. 

Marty finds comfort in his belief in life everlasting.

“My faith in Christ is everything to me – paramount – nobody wants to lose family, but it is in God’s hands and I trust my life to God’s hands as well,” said Marty.

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