1st Coronavirus Victim Is Fondly Recalled As ‘Good, Kindhearted’


1st Coronavirus Victim

Is Fondly Recalled As

‘Good, Kindhearted’

By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Morris’ Brenda L. Utter, the first county resident to succumb to coronavirus, is described as a “good, kindhearted person.”

MORRIS – Just a few months ago, Brenda Utter celebrated surviving breast cancer for 5 years.

“She was so ecstatic about making it,” her husband of 44 years, Phillip Utter, said Monday, March 30, just four days after she died of COVID-19.

Brenda Utter, of Morris, was the first person in Otsego County to die of the virus, which had taken 3,578 lives nationally and 1,500 in New York State as of early this week.

In an interview, Phillip Utter said he was still in shock. The illness took his wife within about a week of her first signs of sickness, he said.

The couple went shopping for groceries on March 14 to buy provisions so they could stay home and practice social distancing, as health officials had advised.

They didn’t know anyone who had coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and they had not traveled abroad. They had no idea that would be the last time Brenda Utter left the house until she was hospitalized.

Though they felt fine that day, they knew they should be careful. In addition to being a cancer survivor, Brenda Utter had diabetes and heart issues.

“Obviously, she had everything going against her, if you want to get down to it,” the husband said.

“We had kind of hunkered down because we were hearing that we should, and then she kind of got a cough and a fever,” he said. “And then it developed a little bit more.”

By Monday, March 23, Brenda was having trouble breathing and the couple called her healthcare provider in the Bassett Healthcare Network. After discussing her symptoms, the provider said Brenda Utter should come to the hospital to be seen.

“They took her into the tent and I sat in the car for close to two hours,” her husband said. “Finally a nurse came out and said they were going to admit her.”

He went home to get her CPAP machine to help her breath at night, and when he returned he was allowed to see her.

She was having a lot of trouble breathing; she was scared,” Phillip said, his voice shaking with emotion. “That was the last time I talked to her.”

She had to be intubated and could no longer speak, but medical staff were in constant contact so he always knew what was happening.

“She was gone in three days’ time,” he said. “It didn’t take any time to take her life.”

Because of the danger of spreading the virus, hospitals across America are observing strict quarantine policies with their COVID patients; Bassett is no exception.

Brenda’s husband understands the reasons, but it was unbearably hard. “It is horrible that you can’t be there,” he said. “That is what you are supposed to do. Be there with them and hold their hand or whatever to comfort them. I guess she knew I was there in spirit.”

Now, Utter, who works at Amphenol Aerospace in Sydney, has himself tested positive for the disease.

Because of social-distancing protocols there shouldn’t be a funeral now anyway, just a graveside service when the COVID crisis is over and people can gather again.

Instead, the funeral director will bring Brenda Utter home one last time. First close family members will come to say farewell.

“When they are done, I will put on my mask and gloves and go in and say my goodbyes,” said Utter, who must follow precautionary measures so nothing gets contaminated.

Now, after more than four decades of marriage, he is left only with his memories. “Brenda was a good hearted person,” he said. “She was kind to everybody.”

He said she loved to go to North Carolina’s Outer Banks on vacation, she loved the waves there and the peace they brought her.

Her former co-workers from Preferred Mutual Insurance – she retired a few years ago – told him that what they will miss the most is her laughter.

“Her heart was bigger than all the outdoors,” Phillip Utter said.

11 thoughts on “1st Coronavirus Victim Is Fondly Recalled As ‘Good, Kindhearted’

  1. Sepherina Allard

    MAY SHE REST IN PEACE…..Deepest condolences to her husband. …. May God be present to he husband and family during this time of bereavement.


  2. Sheila

    So truly sorry for your loss💔. Though I didn’t know this woman, my heart aches for this family😢

  3. madeline

    so very sorry for your loss.I didn’t know her but my heart still brakes with you over your wife’s Sudan death from this virus.may she rest in peace . and may God keep you well and in his hands.

  4. Julie King

    I worked with Brenda years ago at PMIC and she was a great person. Phil she loved you with all her heart and soul. May she find peace and RIP. Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.

  5. Michaela Crandall

    She was always very kinda to me. My mom was friends with her. When I was a kid my mom and I would go to bingo. We’d meet Brenda and he husband there. She’d always help me win and make sure I wouldn’t miss any numbers. She will be missed by me and my mom very much.

  6. Diane

    My heart breaks for her husband and her family. May he find peace in the rarity of marriage that long and maintaining that love. She left with that. 😉❤️ And, although she had cancer, cancer did not have her (that’s what we say in our family). But above all, she has something that most are not graced with….kindness. ❤️ She was successful in life… although those words may not be comforting, I hope one day they will bring some strength to your healing.

  7. Deb Dennis

    We would like to give our condolences to you and the family and all that had known her she sounded like a beautiful soul we are so sorry that all you have is memories now but that is one thing that cannot be taken is your memories hold on them forever and again we are so sorry for your loss and we pray for you and your family to stay strong and healthy The Dennis family from Hartwick

  8. Diane Baker

    I worked with Brenda at PMIc.Most of our time there we worked in the same dept. even if we didn’t we remained friends and had many good times and laughs together. She had a very positive attitude about her cancer and she stayed strong through it all with a smile on her face. You will be missed my friend fly high and smile down on us all. Will miss you .

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