'She was family to us’: Union County worker, husband die from COVID-19 on same day

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A community is mourning the death of a public servant and her husband who both died from complications related to COVID-19 on the same day.

County Manager Mark Watson said in an open letter sent to all county employees that Lora McManus and her husband David both died on Saturday from complications related to the virus.

The couple was married for 40 years and leave behind a 14-year-old daughter, Sara.

“This is devastating to all of us,” Watson said.

Lora McManus worked in the county’s Public Works Customer Service office for more than 20 years and was well-loved by coworkers and residents.

“Lora never had a negative word to say about anyone or anything," Customer Service Manager Ashley Terrell said. "She found the positive in every situation. She was selfless and giving. She always had a story to tell. She gave the best hugs! Her infectious laugh and sense of humor had a way of catching her coworkers off guard. Lora was a historian of all things Public Works. Customers frequently asked for Lora. She just left an impression. She was dedicated, loyal, and will be sorely missed.”

According to Terrell, nothing brought McManus as much joy as her daughter.

“Lora waited a long time to become a mother and she relished in every second of motherhood. She loved to talk about Sara and brag on how well Sara can sing,” she said.

She was a mainstay, Terrell said. She knew everything and everyone, and her coworkers told Channel 9 that life will never be the same without her.

“Her presence. I miss her presence the most,” said Steven Ellis, a customer service specialist with the county.

Ellis said he could never imagine the day when his friend and coworker wasn’t there to greet him when he got to work.

“She sat at our front counter and most of the time I look over and think she’s going to be there,” he said. “So, it’s a huge void for us.”

Lora McManus’s coworkers said her husband and their daughter were the lights of her life. Even when she fell ill, Lora was thinking of them.

“She would say she wasn’t feeling well but was very concerned about her daughter and husband rather than herself,” Terrell told Channel 9.

Terrell worked with Lora McManus in Union County’s customer service department for 13 years.

“Lora was one of the first people I met,” she said. “She immediately shared with me everything she knew and made me feel so welcome on my very first day.”

That helpful, loving personality is something Ellis said made Lora McManus the best at her job.

“She had such a calming way to handle intense situations,” he said. “I strive to be that way, just like Lora in that aspect.”

Her work family is building a collage of photos to keep her close, as they keep on caring for the people of Union County.

“She was not only a friend, she was family to us,” Ellis said. “Having that family atmosphere is important, and I believe the many years Lora was here she helped mold that atmosphere and I’ll forever appreciate her for that.”

Lora McManus was 59 years old and her husband, David, was 64.

>> Read Watson’s full open letter remembering McManus here.

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