Health care hero who died of COVID-19 ‘sacrificed everything for anybody he could help’

David Kolleh (left) was a front-line COVID-19 worker at assisted living facilities. He died from COVID-19 this month.

A manager of several Twin Cities metro area assisted living facilities is being remembered after he died from COVID-19 earlier this month after weeks on the front line of the pandemic.

“He wanted me to be happy, he really did,” said Joetta Kolleh, his wife. “He wanted me to be happy, always.”

Kolleh remembers her husband as fiercely loyal, loving and the protector of their large family.

He came to Minnesota in 1999 from Liberia and with his hard work ethic, he quickly rose the ranks as program manager at several assisted living facilities in the Twin Cities area.

Kolleh also works on the front lines in the same industry and says her husband cared for his elderly residents like they were his own family.

“He sacrificed everything for anybody he could help,” she said.

David Kolleh first came down with COVID-19 symptoms in April. He had been filling in for aides who were sick. Joetta says his condition quickly took a turn for the worst.

“I said, David, David,” recalled Joetta. “He wasn’t saying nothing. He couldn’t move his toes and fingers were turning blue, so I called 911. When they came here, his oxygen level dropped to 40. That was my last time seeing him. He was taken to the hospital for 21 days and died the 22nd day.”

At 61 years old and with no underlying health conditions, he passed away from the virus alone in his hospital bed.

“That is more hurtful that you have your loved one in the hospital who you can’t visit,” said Joetta. “It’s so hurtful.”

In a statement to FOX 9, the Glenn Catholic Senior Communities said it is mourning the loss of Kolleh, calling him an extraordinary caregiver. 

"David's loving compassionate care for our seniors, his friendship and warm smile will be forever missed. David was an inspiration and an example to us all," the business said. 

The Glenn set up a GoFundMe account for Kolleh's family.