The strapping fellow pictured above is Charles Vallee, who died at age 27 this month of long Covid. His obituary says that he “made the lives richer of all he knew,” and I don’t doubt that he did. He seems to have been a remarkable young man.
Vallee was the son of Rodolphe “Skip” Vallee, gas station magnate and generous donor to Republican causes in Vermont and elsewhere. I have poked more than my share of fun at the political stylings of Mr. Vallee, including his deep disdain for Bernie Sanders and his turn as an alleged environmentalist in opposing a Costco gas station that posed a competitive threat to one of his Maplefields outlets, among other things.
Right now, though, it’s time to leave politics at the door. Nobody deserves this. All the sympathy for Skip and his family. This just tears at the heart:
Early this year, Charlie contracted Covid-19, and while weathering the mild respiratory symptoms, he was devastated by a host of Long Covid symptoms so severe that he ultimately had to reject a further deployment and, in the end, take a leave of absence from work. It was in this state, that Charlie left us on May 3.
There’s a whole lot of suffering in that handful of words, for Charlie himself and for those around him. I can’t imagine what these months have been like for the Vallees. Just a few years ago, Skip fought for his own life against cancer. I hope his recovery left him with the strength to endure the loss of his son.
Charlie was exactly the sort of person who’s supposed to be impervious to Covid. He was young and healthy. His initial illness wasn’t that serious, but long Covid got him good and he became one more statistic in Covid’s grim and growing toll.
To their credit, the Vallee family are setting up a special fund in Charlie’s honor, the Charles M. Vallee Foundation for Long Covid Research. They are urging memorial contributions to the fund. Let’s hope the Foundation helps spark a breakthrough in the fight against long Covid. That would at least put a silver lining around his death and the bereavement of those close to him.
Godspeed, Charlie. Condoléances, Skip.