PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– The Bay County community is mourning the loss of a caregiver who lost his battle with COVD-19.
Ricky Maples was a 2005 graduate of Rutherford High School and had worked at Clifford C. Sims State Veterans’ Nursing Home for more than 10 years as a CNA.
“He was just wonderful to be around, he was just really a bright person and very loving– I always knew that of Ricky, he was very loving to everybody that he knew. There were no strangers with Ricky,” former classmate, Brett Haskell said.
Amanda Mitchell met Ricky Maples when they were in middle school at Rosenwald together. Mitchell said his passion for healthcare started at a young age.
“He joined the Health Occupations of America Club at Rutherford because he’s always wanted to work in the healthcare industry. He’s just a loving, caring and amazing guy,” Mitchell said.
A former coworker, who did not wish to be named, said Maples began to feel to a slight cold towards the beginning of August, but he never thought his condition would worsen.
“Ricky’s whole thing was he never complained, and he never talked about himself– he was just happy Ricky,” Nurse “Betty” said.
The Clifford C. Sims State Veterans’ Nursing Home released a statement regarding Ricky’s death:
“It is with profound sadness we share the loss of one of our long-time beloved caregivers, Ricky Maples. Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends, and to his fellow health care professionals at our veterans’ home. Ricky was a shining light who was born to serve others. His veterans loved him. So did our staff members. We remember him sheltering in place with us during Hurricane Michael and helping us through the storm. We’ve been sharing memories today and are planning a private celebration of life in the next few days at the home with his family attending via Zoom.”
Right now, the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs confirmed that 16 staff members and 15 residents are positive with COVID-19. Since the pandemic started, 11 residents have died from the virus. Maples was the first staff member to die from the virus.
Friends of Maples are encouraging others to take the virus more seriously and to continue to wear a mask.
“This virus doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, religion or anything,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also expressed that even though Ricky’s death was sudden and tragic, she said that she felt he was at peace.
“Ricky definitely died doing what he loved, and taking care of people that he loved,” she said.
The family has asked those who want to send flowers to send them to:
Karl Flagg Sincerity Memorial at 2400 Madison Street, Palatka, FL 32177.