His father died of COVID-19 alone in a nursing home: The obituary he wrote blames Americans who 'abandoned' science

Grace Hauck, USA TODAY

Dr. Marvin James Farr was born into an America where neighbors were willing to die for their fellow citizens.

But he died Tuesday in a very different country – one where "many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another."

That's according to a widely shared obituary written by one of Farr's five surviving children, Courtney Farr, that criticizes Americans who have "disparaged and abandoned" science amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Farr, 81, of Scott City, Kansas, tested positive last week for COVID-19 and had been in isolation at a nursing home since Thanksgiving day, according to his son.

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"He was preceded in death by more than 260,000 Americans infected with covid-19. He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family," his son wrote in the obituary posted on the website of Price & Sons Funeral Home.

Farr, a farmer and veterinarian, was born in 1939 "into an America recovering from the Great Depression and about to face World War 2, times of loss and sacrifice difficult for most of us to imagine," Courtney Farr wrote.

"Americans would be asked to ration essential supplies and send their children around the world to fight and die in wars of unfathomable destruction. He died in a world where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another."

Farr graduated from Kansas State University in 1968.

"His careers filled his life with an understanding of the science of life: how to nurture it, how to sustain it, and the myriad ways that life can go wrong. As a young man he debated between studying mortuary or veterinary science. He chose life over death," the obituary continues.

"The science that guided his professional life has been disparaged and abandoned by so many of the same people who depended on his knowledge to care for their animals and to raise their food."

Farr was religious, "a man of his community," and "a family man, both of blood and chosen family," his son wrote. He was active in social organizations that did "good work" for the Shriners Hospitals for Children network. He was also a lay reader at church and "saw no conflict between the science of his professional life and the belief of his personal life, each enriched the other."

"From religion, he especially drew on lessons of forgiveness and care," Farr wrote. "He would look after those who had harmed him the deepest, a sentiment echoed by the healthcare workers struggling to do their jobs as their own communities turn against them or make their jobs harder. He would also fail those who needed him the most at times, as he was still human, with his flaws and limits."

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The obituary has been widely circulated online and featured by various news organizations. Courtney Farr said in a Facebook post Thursday that he was "in shock" by the number of people who have seen it.

"It's resonated with a lot of people, and that warms my heart," Farr said in the post. "Often when we experience loss, pain, or trauma, we feel so alone. And there's such incredible power to learning that you are not, that someone else also knows."

Most of the responses to the obituary have been positive, Farr said, but there have been "a few negative comments, including claims that I made my father's obituary political."

"Well, his death was political. He died in isolation with an infectious disease that is causing a national crisis. To pretend otherwise or to obfuscate is also a political decision," Farr wrote. "I'm sure my father's main complaint would be that he doesn't have the chance to give you all his two cents."

Courtney Farr and Price & Sons Funeral Home did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

As of Saturday, more than 279,000 people in the U.S. and 1.5 million worldwide have died after contracting COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections and deaths continued climbing in recent weeks, leading the influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model to project on Friday that the U.S. will surpass half-a-million COVID-19 deaths by April.

To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans wear face masks in public spaces, and 37 states mandate the wearing of face masks in public, according to a list maintained by AARP. CDC studies have found, in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia, local mask mandates appear to have contributed to the mitigation of COVID-19 transmission.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID patient Marvin Farr obituary criticizes anti-maskers