“We never expected her not to come home”: Beloved owner of McQueen’s Nursery dies from COVID-19, sons say

Beloved owner of McQueen's Nursery dies of COVID-19

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The owner of a popular nursery and landscaping business in Whiteville died Tuesday from the coronavirus.

Clarie McQueen, 66, owned and operated McQueen’s Nursery and Landscaping. Her sons confirmed Friday that she died from COVID-19.

McQueen starting feeling sick April 29 with a fever and a cough. She was admitted to the hospital May 2, put on a ventilator two days later and died May 12.

Her sons, Bobby and Aaron, say while they knew she was sick with a virus that has now claimed the lives of 18 people in Columbus County, they never expected she would die.

“We never expected her not to come home,” says Aaron McQueen. “When we got reports from the doctors daily, it was always a good report. Her oxygen levels were always where they needed to be--her heart rate was always in a good range. Her vitals always stayed pretty good.”

Eight days after going on a ventilator, McQueen died.

Since her death, the company’s Facebook page has been inundated with condolences and tributes to a community pillar. Her sons say their mother was well-loved in the community and would do anything to help anybody.

The unexpected loss has left her sons uncertain of how they will continue their mother’s business which she owned and operated, but they understand the importance of business. Despite their personal impact by the coronavirus, they believe it’s time to reopen North Carolina.

“It is necessary for them to because this is their livelihood we’re talking about here," Aaron says. "People are losing so much right now because of not being able to open. They are going to lose businesses, they are going to lose homes, they are going to lose their personal belongings and everything because they are not able to make the money that they need to put food on their table.”

Bobby says as long as people take precautions, all businesses should be allowed to open.

“We never shut down here at the nursery because Mama--she was deemed essential but we took the proper precautions as far as wearing the mask, the gloves and stuff like that when customers were out and about,” says Bobby. “So using your mask and your gloves and everything like you’re supposed to, I don’t see where it would be an issue as far as North Carolina opening back up."

Following stay at home orders, Aaron and Bobby were not able to give their mother a traditional funeral. A private graveside service was held Thursday.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.