ep. 03, 2021, 7:01 p.m.
A couple who worked together for years at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Gadsden are being mourned after they died days apart from COVID-19.
General Manager Debbie Watson and her husband Jerry Watson were diagnosed back in July, only days after they had celebrated their 30th anniversary.
Jerry died Aug. 19, while Debbie’s death was announced this afternoon, weeks after they entered the hospital.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family’s expenses. The restaurant where they had worked since its opening will be closed Saturday.
On social media posts Friday, customers and friends remembered the two as the “faces and smiles” of Chick-fil-A and paid tribute to their marriage.
Debbie documented the early days after her family’s diagnosis on Facebook.
On July 27, she wrote that her blood sugar levels were high, her children were “chasing her” with water bottles to hydrate, she felt aches, and alternated between hot and cold. “God has a reason for everything,” she wrote.
Two days later, her headaches were worse, she was having trouble breathing and her throat was sore. She wrote that she was tired and afraid to go to sleep with her blood sugar so high. Jerry was having the same trouble, with his legs cramping. Her son and daughter were running fevers as well. “God is still good!” she wrote. Her last post, on July 31, asks for prayer.
In a social media post memorializing the couple, the restaurant where they worked said the two put a lot of love into this store, the employees, and the community.”
“From their ‘Chick-fil-A’ kids as they called them to the customers that they built relationships with over the years, the loss of these two wonderful people is felt by everyone who was blessed enough to come into contact with them,” the restaurant said.
The couple’s two children also work at the restaurant.
“Debbie and Jerry taught understanding and love to not only their kids, but to every single employee they mentored. Debbie and Jerry left a legacy of love and compassion for the whole community,” the store’s Facebook post read.
Heidi Darbo said Debbie helped raise funds for many causes including the Heart Walk. Michael Driskell described Jerry as having “such an indefatigable spirit and a strong Christian faith, one of those people who made our world just a bit better.”
Erica Rodriguez called the two a “true love story….a story that you won’t see in the movies.“
“They worked beside each other at Chick-fil-A for many years until Jerry had a stroke,” Rodriguez said. “Even then they were together and when he was able, he would often sit in the dining room while Debbie and their two children worked.”
According to their son Caleb, Jerry’s one funeral request was always “that no one wear all black because he knew that he was going to be with Jesus up in heaven. He said that when he died to celebrate the life he lived and his new life in Heaven. To all his friends and family he loved y’all very much. And to all his Chick-fil- A kids he was so proud of y’all and he loved y’all very much as well.”