Chicago coronavirus victim Adrew Betts remembered for large legacy in Austin community

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Adrew Betts, a community leader who leaves behind a lasting legacy in Chicago's Austin community, died from COVID-19 this week.

"My dad was my hero, of course, and just a great man," said his daughter Renee Ruffin.

The 71-year-old was well-known and well-loved in the West Side neighborhood.

"My dad survived the Vietnam War. He beat cancer, and was just a great man," Ruffin said. "A fighter."

Betts served as chairman of the board of the Greater St. John Bible Church. He died Sunday morning after falling ill just two weeks before.

"We went into the ER honestly thinking it was something regular, nothing," said Valeria Massey, caregiver. "It just kind of caught us both off-guard."

Until he was hospitalized, Betts had worked alongside Reverend Ira Acree, serving on the deacon board for 25 years. He remained a supporter of the church's activism.

"He was a stellar example of a male figure with an impeccable character and integrity," Acree said.

Betts spent his time serving others after retiring from UPS. Family members said his death is especially shocking because he appeared to be in good health. Although the widower was continuing to recover from hip surgery after surviving two bouts of cancer, he was active, often traveling and enjoying grilling as a hobby.

"People need to realize, too, even a man who served his country can't even have a proper funeral or homegoing or burial," said Tyler Blue, grandson. "We really can't do anything."

Betts was the patriarch of not just a large family, but also a community. Those who knew and loved him say his legacy looms large as they cope with their grief.

"This shouldn't have to happen to anyone," Ruffin said. "But just pray for people all around the world who have lost loved ones due to this terrible, terrible virus."
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