Park Forest Ludeman Center employee remembered as 'bright light' after dying from coronavirus

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Friday, April 24, 2020
Ludeman Center employee remembered as 'bright light' after COVID-19 death
Michelle Abernathy's loved ones remembered her as a "bright light" in their lives.

PARK FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- Michelle Abernathy is one of three deaths at the Elisabeth Ludeman Center in Park Forest amid an outbreak of coronavirus.

She lost her battle with the virus just a few weeks ago, and her loved ones are now remembering her as dedicated to her work and the people she cared for.

"You know, my best friend is gone," said her boyfriend Torrence Jones.

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Abernathy was a bright light to all who loved her.

"I feel lost without her," Jones said. "There's a big empty spot in my heart."

Abernathy was 52-year-old and from Chatham. The other two people at the Ludeman Center who have died were residents.

"She brought happiness around people around her, you know, she, she loved what she did," Jones said.

Abernathy would, by choice, often work late hours to make sure her residents were well-taken care of. Her boyfriend, who is also an employee at Ludeman Center, said the two met last year. He was drawn to her kindness and compassion.

"I could see the passion and desire to, to help others in her eyes," he recalled.

Together he and her family are now getting ready to say goodbye before she is laid to rest Friday.

"She is just a bright and shining star who gave her all, not, not just to the job but to her family as well," Jones said.

Jones said he was also tested for the virus and now suffers from pneumonia. Earlier this week, the Illinois National Guard deployed guardsmen to the center to help test for the virus and give employees help caring for residents.