Suburban family loses three, from three generations, to COVID

A suburban family is mourning the loss of three family members to COVID-19. 

A grandmother, her daughter and her grandson all died within a week of one another and are sharing their story while asking the public to take COVID seriously.

"We feel that COVID is real so we want everyone to play it safe so other families don't have to go through what we went through," said Trevor Black, who lost his grandmother, aunt, and cousin. "We lost three generations in three days."

The family members who died are Ophelia Jenkins-Thomas, 84, a retired nurse, her daughter, Virginia Jenkins-Greenridge, 60, a former postal worker, and Virginia's son, Michael Topps, 33, the first member of the family to graduate college.  

They all died within days of one another after a total of ten members of the family contracted COVID.

'My mom's house is where it started," said Mary Jenkins-Topps, who lost her mother, sister, and son. "I, too, contracted it, and obviously took it home to my husband and my son."

Family members say their deceased loved ones had not been vaccinated and were initially hesitant about receiving the vaccine. But after their deaths, they are now strongly urging others to get vaccinated.


"I believe the vaccination did save me because I was there caring for my mother and grandmother as well, and I tested negative," Black said.

"To anyone in Chicago or otherwise: this thing is real," added Jenkins-Topps.

A triple-visitation for the family members is happening Saturday, May 8, at Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side.  

The family owns and operates Chicago's Chicken Shack with locations in Broadview and Crest Hill; those locations will be providing COVID Testing and vaccine doses in the coming weeks.