‘He had the biggest heart’: Wife, friends remember beloved coach who died of COVID-19

‘He had the biggest heart’: Wife, friends remember beloved coach who died of COVID-19

A husband, father, papa and beloved coach.Those are just some of the ways you can describe Barry Foster, who died Saturday because of COVID-19. He was a few months shy of his 60th birthday.Lesa Foster, his wife of 35 years, said it all started New Year’s Eve. Their rapid tests both came back negative, but they had symptoms and they had been exposed.The two took another test that came back positive. At first, they tried to ride it out at home.Lesa got better, but Barry was declining. She rushed him to the emergency room, where they learned he had pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital immediately.“Something was wrong. He was different,” Lesa said.After a few nights at the Grady County Hospital in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Barry continued to get worse.“They called code blue on him,” Lesa said. “Physicians and nurses and the code team came from every corner of the hospital. He was put on the ventilator at that point. That’s when they decided he needed higher-level care.”That higher level of care was in the Oklahoma City metro. The problem was that hospitals were already maxed out with patients.Lesa told sister staton KOCO that they were going to have to transfer him to Albuquerque, New Mexico.“A bed became available literally moments before they signed off on a flight plan with Albuquerque to come and pick him up,” she said. “When we hear on the news all the metro beds are full, maybe you don’t think that’s that big of a concern until it’s your loved one who’s on the waiting list.”Once he made it to Oklahoma City, Lesa said COVID-19 began attacking Barry’s organs.“His kidneys, his liver, fluid on the lungs,” she said. “You don’t fully understand how the virus can overtake a healthy person and go from health to death in two weeks.”Barry died on Jan. 16. He was 59 years old.“Would’ve been celebrating his 60th birthday in May,” Lesa said.She wants people to know that each number represents a person.“A father and a grandfather and a football coach,” Lesa said. “He wasn’t just the patient in 3A, but he was coach Foster.”And his family chooses to focus on how Barry lived, not how he died.“Really felt like the power of prayer was the greatest thing that he could do for anyone,” Lesa said. “He was gruff on the outside, but he had the biggest heart.”And that is evident on a Facebook page, where memories are pouring in from friends and former athletes.“The majority of his coaching years, he was an assistant,” Lesa said. “A lot of the players said when our head coach yelled at us, it was coach Foster that came behind patting us on the back, encouraging us.”Barry was a coach for decades in many sports and different locations, but mostly football in Rush Springs, Oklahoma.“His entire life was dedicated to teaching and coaching and mentoring,” Lesa said.The mentoring part was more important to Barry than wins or losses. In 2018, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame for his work on and off the field.“He took it from the football field further. They were his kids, treated them as their own children,” Oklahoma City Public Schools Athletics Director Todd Dilbeck said.Dilbeck was one of Barry’s closest friends.“What’s so unique about him was his love for everybody he came in contact with,” Dilbeck said.And that includes most of all Barry’s love for his wife, children and grandchildren.“We laugh at how he tracked everybody, going from point A to point B,” Lesa said. “But that was his desire to take care of us.”Lesa told KOCO that, more than anything, she’ll miss their family time – those Sunday night meals with their big family where all the grandchildren loved to pile on Papa’s lap.“His empty chair, you know, where he sat and where he spent so much time just loving on them,” she said. “We’re just going to miss him so much.”Lesa also wanted to say if you have recovered from COVID-19, donate your plasma. She got emotional when talking about the gift of plasma her husband received, saying it gave him time and gave the family hope.Lesa said if you haven’t had the virus, donate blood. Barry got four units of blood, too. She said you don’t realize how important that is until your loved one needs it and needs it fast.

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A husband, father, papa and beloved coach.

Those are just some of the ways you can describe Barry Foster, who died Saturday because of COVID-19. He was a few months shy of his 60th birthday.

Lesa Foster, his wife of 35 years, said it all started New Year’s Eve. Their rapid tests both came back negative, but they had symptoms and they had been exposed.

The two took another test that came back positive. At first, they tried to ride it out at home.

Lesa got better, but Barry was declining. She rushed him to the emergency room, where they learned he had pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital immediately.

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“Something was wrong. He was different,” Lesa said.

After a few nights at the Grady County Hospital in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Barry continued to get worse.

“They called code blue on him,” Lesa said. “Physicians and nurses and the code team came from every corner of the hospital. He was put on the ventilator at that point. That’s when they decided he needed higher-level care.”

That higher level of care was in the Oklahoma City metro. The problem was that hospitals were already maxed out with patients.

Lesa told sister staton KOCO that they were going to have to transfer him to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“A bed became available literally moments before they signed off on a flight plan with Albuquerque to come and pick him up,” she said. “When we hear on the news all the metro beds are full, maybe you don’t think that’s that big of a concern until it’s your loved one who’s on the waiting list.”

Once he made it to Oklahoma City, Lesa said COVID-19 began attacking Barry’s organs.

“His kidneys, his liver, fluid on the lungs,” she said. “You don’t fully understand how the virus can overtake a healthy person and go from health to death in two weeks.”

Barry died on Jan. 16. He was 59 years old.

“Would’ve been celebrating his 60th birthday in May,” Lesa said.

She wants people to know that each number represents a person.

“A father and a grandfather and a football coach,” Lesa said. “He wasn’t just the patient in 3A, but he was coach Foster.”

And his family chooses to focus on how Barry lived, not how he died.

“Really felt like the power of prayer was the greatest thing that he could do for anyone,” Lesa said. “He was gruff on the outside, but he had the biggest heart.”

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And that is evident on a Facebook page, where memories are pouring in from friends and former athletes.

“The majority of his coaching years, he was an assistant,” Lesa said. “A lot of the players said when our head coach yelled at us, it was coach Foster that came behind patting us on the back, encouraging us.”

Barry was a coach for decades in many sports and different locations, but mostly football in Rush Springs, Oklahoma.

“His entire life was dedicated to teaching and coaching and mentoring,” Lesa said.

The mentoring part was more important to Barry than wins or losses. In 2018, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame for his work on and off the field.

“He took it from the football field further. They were his kids, treated them as their own children,” Oklahoma City Public Schools Athletics Director Todd Dilbeck said.

Dilbeck was one of Barry’s closest friends.

“What’s so unique about him was his love for everybody he came in contact with,” Dilbeck said.

And that includes most of all Barry’s love for his wife, children and grandchildren.

“We laugh at how he tracked everybody, going from point A to point B,” Lesa said. “But that was his desire to take care of us.”

Lesa told KOCO that, more than anything, she’ll miss their family time – those Sunday night meals with their big family where all the grandchildren loved to pile on Papa’s lap.

“His empty chair, you know, where he sat and where he spent so much time just loving on them,” she said. “We’re just going to miss him so much.”

Lesa also wanted to say if you have recovered from COVID-19, donate your plasma. She got emotional when talking about the gift of plasma her husband received, saying it gave him time and gave the family hope.

Lesa said if you haven’t had the virus, donate blood. Barry got four units of blood, too. She said you don’t realize how important that is until your loved one needs it and needs it fast.

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