DeKalb school custodian’s death COVID-19 related, family says

Benny Lee Doe (Family photo)
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Benny Lee Doe (Family photo)

A DeKalb County School District employee’s recent death was due to complications from the coronavirus, his family said this week.

Benny Lee Doe, 70, was a custodian at Columbia Middle School for nearly five years, according to a statement from the district. The statement did not include a cause of death.

But Doe’s family told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Feb. 8 and died Feb. 22.

“He was an awesome provider and an all-around great man. He will truly be missed,” said Ashley Terrell, Doe’s daughter.

Terrell said her father continued to work because he was focused on supporting his wife, Regina.

ExploreMore stories about DeKalb County Public Schools

According to his obituary, Doe lived in Covington and was a Burton, South Carolina native.

“The DeKalb County School District sends its condolences to the family of Benny Lee Doe,” the district’s statement said. “He represented the role in an exemplary manner. His family is in the thoughts and prayers of DCSD.”

Doe’s family said they believe he was infected at work.

ExploreCOVID-19 cases reported at metro Atlanta public schools

DeKalb schools, which has more than 93,000 students, has reported 862 cases of the coronavirus among students and employees July 1 to Feb. 18. Of that number, Columbia Middle Schools reported 10 known cases among staff.

Classes in the DeKalb school classes have been virtual-only since last March, but the district plans to begin reopening classrooms to some students next week.

Doe is the second known DeKalb schools employee who recently died due to COVID-19, according to their families. Washington Varnum Jr., 54, was a campus supervisor at Henderson Middle School for the last three years, according to the district. Varnum died on Feb. 1, according to his obituary.

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