Sep. 16—Josh Brackett said the first thing he noticed about his future wife Leigh Anne was her smile.
"She had just an amazing smile," he said. "Her smile and her bubbly personality drew me to her. She could walk into a room and lighten it up. No matter how bad your mood was, she could cheer you up. She always put herself out there to help other people."
Leigh Anne Garland Brackett, who taught for seven years in Dalton Public Schools and was now with Murray County Schools, died Monday at AdventHealth Gordon from COVID-19. She was 35.
Josh said he and Leigh Anne met 16 years ago at a Dalton supermarket, where she was his supervisor.
"She was, I think, in her first or second year of college and I had just gotten out of high school," he said.
The two were married in June 2009.
Leigh Anne would earn a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Dalton State College and a master's in special education from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
"From talking to her and talking to her parents, she always wanted to be a teacher," said Josh. "From the time she was a little girl, she just wanted to be a teacher. She loved children, especially small children. She wanted to help them become successful in life. She wanted to be a role model and mentor for them."
Josh said Leigh Anne always strived to be the best teacher possible.
"She got her master's after we were married," he said. "Our son had been born, and she began working on her master's. She finished her master's and graduated just before our daughter was born."
"We were saddened to hear of the passing of one of our former Dalton Public Schools teachers this week," Dalton Public Schools said in a statement. "Leigh Anne Brackett started in the district as a substitute teacher in August 2013. She was hired as an Exceptional Student Services (ESS) paraprofessional in 2014 and then became an ESS teacher during the 2015-16 school year. She remained as a teacher in the district until her resignation at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brackett's family and friends during this challenging time."
"This would have been her second year in Murray County Schools," said Josh. "She taught in the Murray County Pre-K Center."
He said his wife first became ill in mid-August.
"It seemed like a sinus infection," he said. "She gets them every year, so we weren't worried. But it kept getting worse. She said, 'I'm going to go to the doctor and get a steroid shot.' They asked if they could do a COVID test. She agreed, and it came back positive. It was three or four days after that I had to have her admitted to the hospital. She was on a ventilator for 22 or 23 days. She was supposed to have a tracheostomy and come off the ventilator. But she came up with a bacterial infection. They were trying to treat that. But her blood pressure soared and her heart stopped."
Josh said he and their children did not get COVID-19.
"I'm fully vaccinated and my kids didn't get it," he said.
He said Leigh Anne was not vaccinated.
"She had had a tetanus shot two weeks before we went to get our first round (of the COVID-19 vaccine)," he said. "They told her she had to wait 30 days, and she got sick, I think, two weeks after that."
Josh said he hopes his wife will be remembered as someone who cared about others.
"If you met her and talked to her, you'd pretty quickly become friends, and after knowing her a little while, you'd become like family," he said.
The funeral service for Leigh Anne Garland Brackett will be Sunday at 3 p.m. at Salem Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 1 to 3 p.m. at the church. Her burial will be in Poplar Springs Cemetery.