Hancock County

The sudden death of a husband and father is only the beginning of this family’s nightmare

The Godwin family, from left, Brandon, Brock, Tammy and Timothy, are pictured several years ago on a family trip to Branson, Missouri, Brock Godwin passed away suddenly on July 7, then his wife suffered a major medical emergency.
The Godwin family, from left, Brandon, Brock, Tammy and Timothy, are pictured several years ago on a family trip to Branson, Missouri, Brock Godwin passed away suddenly on July 7, then his wife suffered a major medical emergency.

Family and friends knew Tammy Godwin was sick, but nobody realized what was about to happen to her husband.

Brock Godwin told his wife that he wasn’t feeling well the morning of July 6. He went to work hanging dry wall anyway. A few hours later, he literally sat down on the job in Baton Rouge.

His boss, a lifelong friend, knew he needed to take Godwin home, so he did. When they arrived in Lakeshore, Godwin was unable to walk. He slid down the side of the truck.

Tammy Godwin insisted her husband go to the hospital. The 52-year-old died there the next morning of an infection called sepsis, said Wanda Bergeron, Tammy Godwin’s stepmother. All the family can figure is that the infection might have come from a bad tooth that had recently been pulled.

The husband and father of two had been dead only one month and a week when Tammy Godwin started throwing up. This was not unusual for the severe diabetic.

But the nausea continued, so her family took her to the hospital. Her sons, 10-year-old Timothy and 18-year-old Brandon, who is mentally disabled, were frightened to see their mom go.

“Brock went to the hospital and didn’t come back,” Bergeron said. “That’s all (the boys) could say.”

Tammy Godwin almost didn’t come back. She was admitted on Aug. 15. A cardiac catheterization showed she had two blocked arteries. Doctors put a stent in one. She still needs a second stent.

She had a heart attack and went into kidney failure. She was in the hospital, and then in rehab, until Tuesday. The family is now staying with Wanda Bergeron and Tammy Godwin’s father, Tommy Bergeron, in their Kiln home.

Tammy Godwin has to have dialysis three times a week. She will need a kidney transplant, if she qualifies, her stepmother said.

With Brock Godwin’s death, the family lost any regular income. Tammy Godwin will get a Social Security check and recently qualified for disability.

The community has stepped in to help.

“I’ve been knowing them all my life,” said Starlyn Peterson of Bay St. Louis, who is organizing a fundraiser for Oct. 21 at the Lakeshore VFW. “I woke up one morning and said, ‘She needs help.’ That was before her heart attack.”

After her heart attack, Tammy Godwin forgot that her husband was dead and had to be told all over again. She is still grieving.

The two would have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in December. They met when he asked her to dance while they were out one night.

He coached his son’s peewee football team. The family liked to watch football on television, especially the Saints, and do all the things regular families do.

Tammy Godwin, who is 46, just wants to be able to return one day to her mobile home in Lakeshore and take care of her boys.

“They’ve been through a lot,” she said. “It scared them after I got sick after what happened with their dad.

She is grateful to her family and friends for stepping in after her husband’s death. They set up a GoFundMe account for expenses, reaching just over half the $10,000 goal.

“I’m in therapy to try to walk,” she said. “I can’t walk very far.”

Family and friends help keep her going. Plus, Godwin said, “My faith is what gets me through.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

How to help

A benefit and corn hole tournament will be held beginning at noon on Oct. 21 at the VFW, 7316 Lower Bay Road, for the Brock and Tammy Godwin family to help with expenses after the death of Brock Godwin, followed by his wife’s critical illness.

Plates available: Fried fish, beans, hush puppies bread, and a choice of potato salad, macaroni and cheese or coleslaw for $7; or gumbo and potato salad with bread for $7. Cakes, bread pudding and other sweets also will be sold.

Auctions: Gift packages are being donated for auction.

Corn hole tournament: The tournament will start at 1 p.m., with registration of $10 per person beginning at noon. The payout will be 50/50. Plus, an air-mail challenge will be held throughout the day.

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