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Hickory High School employee dies from COVID-19

Larry Conger had been hospitalized on a ventilator since Jan. 1. The community continues to rally around him and his family.

HICKORY, N.C. — In late December, husband and wife Larry and Barbara Conger of Hickory both tested positive for the coronavirus. Barbara Conger recovered with mild symptoms, but Larry Conger had been battling much more serious complications, landing him in the hospital. 

Late Thursday evening, Hickory Public Schools confirmed Conger has died from COVID-19. 

"The head of maintenance for Hickory High— Larry was actually a teacher in our school— he taught the students and staff about kindness — every day! Always in our hearts," the school wrote on Twitter. 

His wife said prior to catching the virus, he was relatively active and healthy.

“I’ve asked the doctor this: ‘Why did it attack him?’” Barbara Conger said. “He was honest and said he truly did not know and said this virus affects people in different ways.”

After trying steroids, vitamins and antibiotics that seemed to help make no improvements, Larry Conger was eventually admitted to Catawba Valley Medical Center on Jan. 1 and placed on a ventilator.

“He is requiring 100% oxygen at this point which really isn’t good,” Barbara Conger said of her husband before his death. “He’s battling MRSA and the doctors are really concerned because his lungs are not responding.”

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Much of the community seems to love and know Larry best for his role as a maintenance man at Hickory High School. For much of the school year, students there have been on a Plan B learning schedule -- which is a hybrid between in-person and virtual learning.

“He never meets a stranger. He makes an impact it seems like wherever he’s at,” Barbara Conger said. “He just loves people.”

Now his family is hoping his wide-reaching impact might encourage others to continue to wear their masks and take this virus very seriously.

“You’re not promised to get a mild case,” his daughter April Watts said. “It’s just about loving your neighbor and caring for them.”

You can help support Larry and cover some of his medical expenses during his COVID-19 recovery by donating to GoFundMe or participating in an online auction organized by the community

RELATED: Only 41% of second vaccine doses in North Carolina have been administered: 'We’re still catching up'

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