‘It wouldn’t have been the same’: Butler County man thankful he held father’s funeral before shutdown

A Butler County man wonders what his father’s visitation and funeral would have been like if he died a few days later when restrictions were in place because of the coronavirus.

Rusty Jessee, 57, of Liberty Twp., said his father, Eugene Jessee, died March 10. He was 91. His funeral at First Church of the Open Bible in Springfield was held March 13, just days before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered people to stay home to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

MORE CORONAVIRUS: Coronavirus impacting businesses, even funeral homes

Jessee said it was “comforting” to visit with relatives and his father’s friends at the services and to hear two of his friends deliver eulogies. They talked about how genuine his fatherwas in his faith, about how he cared for his wife, Connie, as her health deteriorated, and how he lived his life as the strokes that he had in 2015 took their toll on him, his son said.

If Jessee had died last week, none of that would have happened, because the services would have been private and much smaller, his son said.

“I’m not sure ‘cheated’ is the right word, but it wouldn’t have been the same,” Jessee said. “It was good that we grieved together. My heart goes out to those families now who are not able to go through the grieving process. Sharing the sadness of a funeral is as much a part of our humanity as when we celebrate a wedding, the birth of a child, or a graduation. We share our joy and happiness. We share our grief and pain. It is how we are wired. I am so glad that I was able to have that shared grieving as opposed to trying to do it on my own.”

For family that are facing a funeral, Jessee said they should trust their faith and be “thankful” for those who can attend. For those unable to attend, he recommended making a “personal contact” with people days or weeks after the services.

Jessee was retired from International Harvester and he attended Restoration Worship Center, according to his obituary. He was an avid Johnny Cash fan, enjoyed playing the guitar, and was a sports fan, especially of West Virginia University, Ohio State, and Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.


We’re looking to profile people throughout our coverage area about how the coronavirus is impacting your daily life. If you’re interested in sharing your story about how you’re affected or adapting to the situation, call Journal-News reporter Rick McCrabb at 513-483-5216 or email rick.mccrabb@coxinc.com.

About the Author