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Meningitis outbreak: 13th victim 'thought about everybody else before herself'

3:49 PM, Nov 6, 2012   |    comments
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By Lisa Fingeroot | The Tennessean

A crowd of more than 300 people at a funeral visitation is unusual for the small town of Adairville, Ky., but the gathering showed just how much people there respect and admire Marie Prince Hester, said leaders of the Living Word Church where the visitation was held.


Mrs. Hester, 78, died Thursday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her death became the 13th linked to contaminated epidural steroid injections in Tennessee.

Mrs. Hester spent nearly 50 days in the hospital after getting a steroid shot for back pain that had plagued her for some time, said Pastor William Cowan of the Living Word Church in Adairville. "She grew progressively worse and worse."

Cowan described Mrs. Hester, a homemaker, as family-oriented.

"Any need they had, she was there to provide for that need," he said. "She also had a heart for other people's problems and their needs. She loved the Lord and she loved people."

Not only was the visitation crowded, the funeral on Sunday was also packed, Cowan said. Mrs. Hester was the mother of "a family that affected a lot of people. It was sad," he added.

Church treasurer and retired Adairville City Clerk Becky Tinch echoed Cowan's comments.

"Everybody was close to Marie. I called her Aunt Marie and we weren't even related," Tinch said. "She thought about everybody else before herself, always."

Mrs. Hester was the mother of six and leaves behind a large extended family of 21 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild. "She was a great mother to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren," Tinch added.

Her death was a blow to the whole church congregation, said Tinch, who has fond memories of Mrs. Hester and her late husband, Raydell Hester, participating in a special church ministry effort.

"She was so helpful in the early '70s with the bus ministry," Tinch recalled. "I remember her husband drove an old school bus" for the effort.

Other victims

State officials are aware of 13 deaths in Tennessee linked to contaminated steroid injections from Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. The victims typically developed fungal meningitis or suffered strokes after the tainted shots. Besides Mrs. Hester, the victims include:

* Kentucky Circuit Judge Eddie C. Lovelace, 78, of Albany, Ky., who died Sept. 17.

* Margaret Bryant, 74, of McMinnville, who died Sept. 18.

* Thomas Warren Rybinski, 55, of Smyrna, who died Sept. 29.

* Diana Reed, 56, of Nashville, who died Oct. 3.

* Reba Temple, 80, a Centerville, Tenn., resident, who died Oct. 6.

* Earline Williams, 72, a longtime librarian at Stratford High School in Nashville, who died Oct. 15.

* J.W. Ragland, 71, of Adolphus, Ky., who died Oct. 16.

* Mary Neal Martin, 89, of Inglewood, who died Oct. 25.

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