PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When it came to sports, Hampton resident Greg Chappell loved the Philadelphia Flyers, Old Dominion University Sports, and the Miami Dolphins. He even named his daughter Alexandra Marina, in honor of retired Dolphins Dan Marino.
Michael Luckey met Chappell in junior high school 40 years ago. They watched a football game together just two weeks ago.
“We were watching a football game Sunday night two weeks ago. The following Sunday, I got word that he was in the hospital in ICU on a ventilator after contracting coronavirus,” said Luckey.
Friday night, Luckey spoke to his friend at Sentara Hampton Careplex one last time. Nurses placed a phone near Chappell’s ear and they assured Luckey his friend could hear.
“The nurses were fantastic. I told him, ‘You got a lot of people who love you. It’s too soon, we want you back,'” said Luckey.
“It’s really difficult knowing that’s probably the last time you are going to talk to someone and by 9 p.m. that night he was gone,” Luckey said.
Gone was the man who spent more than a decade teaching Spanish at Woodside High School in Newport News and about eight years at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk.
On Thursday, Norfolk Public Schools released a statement on Chappell’s death.
“Mr. Chappell was a Spanish teacher at Lake Taylor High School. His NPS family is deeply saddened by his death.”
“For Greg, teaching was really the essence of who he was. He saw himself as someone who wanted to help people to help shape and mold their lives,” said Luckey.
Luckey now has a lesson for the vaccine-hesitant.
“He was not vaccinated; unfortunately, he had gotten the first part of the Pfizer a week before he contracted it but it had not been in his system long enough to offer any protection,” he said.
Luckey has created a GoFundMe page to help Chappell’s daughter and son with expenses.
“I try to encourage the people he has touched. If you have a fond memory of Greg; if you have something you can think of that makes you smile however he affected your life — if you can — try to contribute something to help his family during this time,” Luckey said.
A celebration of Mr. Chappell’s life will be held Saturday, Oct. 2, at 12:30 p.m. at Buckroe Beach in Hampton. The celebration is open to the public, but the family asks that participants wear a mask and if they are feeling ill, stay home.