Rae and Wally Crosno were married for 32 years, sharing dozens of good times with family and friends, memorable trips around the country and a deep-rooted passion for sports.
Rae is a Green Bay Packers fan and Wally’s team was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“He and I loved watching football together, both of us laughing at each other when we yelled at the officials, usually more so when the Steelers played my Packers,” Rae said. “I’d have to say he was born with his love for sports.”
Wally, 66, died June 7 — five days after being tested and confirmed for COVID-19 — at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown.
Three days later, as she grieved for her husband, Rae also was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for the virus. She said she had a fever and a cough, among other symptoms.
“I had just enough to make me feel lousy,” she said. Rae said her overnight oxygen levels were low so she was admitted to HMH and released June 14.
Known for his to-the-point nature, Wally complained of a fever and being short of air prior to being admitted to the hospital. By June 3, his family said, his breathing had become so challenging his pulmonary doctor advised to have him directly admitted to HMH.
Wally, who retired in 2018 from Metalsa and had spent 32 years as a truck driver, became the third of seven Hardin County residents as of Friday to die from COVID-19 complications.
How he contracted the virus, the family is unsure.
“Does anyone really know how they contract it?” Rae said.
“He’d been in the hospital two weeks before for a week with his COPD so he could have contracted it there or from me,” she said. “I would still go out to pickup groceries, pickup dinner, and run small errands. Who knows who I came in contact with, who may have had it and I brought it home.”
His family said he had faced difficult health issues prior to his death.
He was in “very end stage COPD/emphysema,” said one of his two sons, Isaac. He also recently had found out he was in congestive heart failure along with his kidneys starting to get worse.
“He also wasn’t able to be very active due to a surgery on his lower back that caused nerve damage in his right leg and foot which was beginning to go into his left foot,” he said.
Rae and Wally made Radcliff their home when they moved from St. Louis several years ago during BRAC. Rae is a retired U.S. Army Department of Defense employee.
Wally’s family said spending time with his family meant everything to him.
“Family time to him was being around both sides of our family whether it was two or three or 22,” Isaac said. “He enjoyed debating with some; playing games with others; laughing with all of them. We loved going on road trips, driving not flying. There was too much to see, and while you could see a lot in the air, you couldn’t stop at a place like you could when driving.”
Isaac said the family had traveled “across the United States except for the upper eastern states.”
“Wally was open, honest and a very direct man and some people didn’t know how to take his personality,” Rae said. “You ask him a question, he’d let you know his feelings.”
A grandfather to six, Wally learned the significance of family from his grandmother, Faye, who he spent many summers with.
“She would take him fishing, taught him how to build stuff, how to shoot her shotgun and even some cooking,” Isaac said. “He sat with her while she cooked and they talked. She was a huge influence in his life on what it meant to have family.”
Rae said her husband was a hard-working man who embraced those he loved most.
“He loved his family, blood and those he ‘adopted’ that weren’t blood,” she said. “As much pain as he was in his last two to three years, he went to work every day until he retired, still did work at home, and he never gave up, even at the end of his life. I want people to know that he was kind, generous, stubborn, and loving and everything in between.”
Wally adopted Isaac and he said he learned “how to be a good Dad to my kids from him,” he said.
“As I always say, for me, he was the Dad he didn’t have to be,” Isaac said. “He was, is and will always be my Dad.”
“We hardly ever argued but if we did, we always concluded with both of us being OK and letting each other know that we love each other,” Isaac said. “Even as an adult, I always made sure I told him I loved him. I also made sure that every time I saw him or had to say, ‘see you later’ that we gave each other a hug and I would even give him a kiss on the cheek.”
Because of Rae’s battle with COVID-19, Wally’s funeral services were delayed until early July in Missouri.
On Thursday, one of what will be many “firsts” without Wally happened. It was Rae’s birthday.
“It was OK. I got through it,” she said.
She said she is unsure if she will stay in Radcliff or move to St. Louis or Arizona. She has family in both locations.
Rae said she didn’t want to make any rash decisions for about six months and she then would see what she may want to do.
No matter where she ends up living, some things will never change.
“I want people to know how proud I was to be his wife for 32 years,” she said, “and I know he’s still watching over me every day.”