The idea that COVID-19 is only deadly for the elderly or those with underlying health conditions has proven to be untrue.

A beloved Huron wife, mother and teacher suddenly became ill last week. Hours later, Mari Hofer was dead, despite all efforts to save her.

Now her husband Quint is forced to grieve in isolation with the couple’s children.

51-year-old Mari Hofer left behind three children, ages 15, 18 and 21 and her husband of 23 years, Quint.

The Hofer family

Kennecke: How are they doing, your children?
Quint Hofer: They’re amazing, they really are and that’s a tribute to their mom—her faith and their faith in Christ–and that’s what is getting us through this.

Mari had been exposed to COVID-19 through relatives. The family was in isolation while she was teaching her third grade James Valley Christian students online.

Suddenly fell ill

“She never had any of the COVID virus symptoms at all. She was feeling good,” Quint said,

However, last Friday evening, Mari laid down because she wasn’t feeling well.

“She said, ‘yeah, Quint, I feel really weird. I feel like I just got done blowing up a bunch of balloons and I’m feeling kind of nauseous.'”

Quint Hofer on wife Mari’s sudden onset of symptoms

Quint urged her to go to the hospital. He called ahead to let the emergency room know they were on their way and it could be COVID-19. They were greeted by medical staff wearing personal protective equipment.

“(I) Helped her out of the vehicle and into the wheelchair. I told the nurse she was having trouble breathing and she said, ‘yeah I can tell that from the color of her lips.’ And basically said, with the circumstances, I couldn’t come in and that was the last time I saw Mari.

Quint and Mari Hofer of Huron

Airlifted to Sioux Falls, while family waits

Quint waited in the hospital parking lot for updates and when they didn’t sound good, he asked that Mari be airlifted to Sioux Falls. He went home to tell his children. Sometime after Midnight, he got a phone call from Avera’s ICU, informing him that doctors were performing CPR.

“At that point in time went to the living room and told my son, Zachary, and daughter, Lily, and we prayed together; crying out to God to keep her and keep her here,” Quint said.

At 3 a.m. Saturday, they learned Mari was gone.

“It’s so sudden and so shocking,” he said.

Mari’s faith and love for others

“You have made me new, now life begins with you,” Mari Hofer sang in a YouTube video on April 1, 2018 at Bethel Church.

“She had a love for music, a love for people,” Quint said.

Mari often expressed her faith through song in church.

“She was very loving, caring. She had a servant’s heart. She loved her kids. She loved her community,”

Family in isolation while grieving

Mari Hofer in her kitchen

Kennecke: Having lost someone suddenly, I just know that having the support of others meant everything at the time. How are you coping?
Hofer: There’s nothing to replace a hug, so we’re trying to process that in our minds and what that means. I’ve had phone calls and trying to stay in contact with people throughout the day. But at this point, that’s the best we can do. We’ll just take it one day at a time.

The Hofer’s daughter, Lily, has a slight fever, but her dad says she is doing okay. Mari’s mother also tested positive for the virus and their oldest son, Caleb, is with his grandparents helping on their farm. The family is in quarantine until April 10 and plans to hold a celebration of Mari’s life as soon as circumstances allow.