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Wisconsin superintendent one of 500,000 lost to COVID-19

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MARKESAN (WKOW) -- COVID-19 has touched communities of every size across the U.S., as 500,000 people -- including a Wisconsin superintendent -- have now died from the virus.

"My dad was... my hero, my best friend, my high school principal," said Brad Bark.

His father, Duane Bark, made his mark on the Markesan community.

"Took time out of his day just to make sure the people he worked with, his students, his parents, were all feeling good about themselves," Brad said.

Duane was a superintendent, athletic director, coach and inspiration to the community.

He tested positive for COVID-19 last summer.

"And on July 23, his birthday, they admitted him into the hospital," Brad said.

On August 7, Duane was placed into a coma after telling his family he loved them.

"Not knowing that was going to be the last time we actually talked to him," Brad said.

For two months, Duane fought -- with people around the world praying, and fighting, with him.

"I've got a #BarkStrong bracelet on right here," Brad said.

October 7, his family started unplugging Duane from the machines keeping him alive.

"After we said the Lord's Prayer, we said Amen," Brad said. "I'm not kidding you, he opened his eyes so wide, looking up at the ceiling, tears coming out. Within five minutes, he flatlined."

Brad reflected on that moment -- a moment more than 500,000 families have felt in the last year.

"That's 500,000 people that God needed at this point," he said.

Brad says his experience with his dad has brought him closer to other families who've lost loved ones, too. And he's hopeful for the future, thinking of how his dad, the coach, would want to keep fighting.

"Everybody has to do their own part in order to succeed as a team," Brad said.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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