One of Rockland County's largest and most well-respected families has lost a husband, wife and daughter to COVID-19 within days of each other this month.
Charles Bullock of Piermont, a star athlete at Tappan Zee High School who later became a trailblazing African-American fire chief, died April 20 at age 80.
His wife Lois, a longtime educator in the Nyack schools who was active in her church, died April 3 at age 80.
Their daughter, Chanda Lori Bullock-Ogburn, who worked in health care as a social worker, died April 17 at age 60.
There have been 401 deaths in the county since the coronavirus outbreak began, with more than 9,560 people infected with COVID-19.
Charles Bullock, known as Charlie, graduated from Tappan Zee High School in 1958 and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. He co-captained TZ's 1958 Rockland County Championship basketball team and earned All-Rockland County Honors in football and basketball.
He joined the volunteer Central Nyack Fire Department in 1968 and served as chief in 1978 and 1979.
Ken Wanamaker, 70, a 52-year member of the Central Nyack Fire Department, said Bullock was a mentor to other officers and firefighters rising up through the ranks.
"No matter what, you saw Charlie at the firehouse and at firematic events," Wanamaker said. "His smile was infectious. He was a very tall, polite gentleman. He had a way of taking away your worries. He also had something nice to say to take your mind off your daily worries."
Wanamaker said he took over as fire chief when Bullock resigned in December 1979 to work as a state trooper.
"He was just an individual you can never forget about," Wanamaker, the department's chaplain, said. "I would call him and ask how they were doing. What happened is sad and tragic to the family."
Bullock was briefly a Clarkstown cop before taking a job with the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police. Once the New York section of the parkway was taken over by the state, he became a trooper. He later worked the door at Costco at Nanuet.
Lois Bullock graduated from Tappan Zee High in 1957, where she was a member of the honor society, according to her obituary. She later earned a business degree from Keuka College.
She retired from the Nyack school district's Liberty Elementary School in Valley Cottage in 1988 after 23 years as a teaching assistant.
She and Charles — Piermont neighbors who knew each other since the age of 5 — were married in 1959. Besides Chanda, they had two sons, Clifton and Charles Jr.; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
'A crushing blow'
The Rev. Brandon McLauchlin, pastor of the St. Charles AME Zion Church in Sparkill, said the Bullocks have been mainstays in the church for many years.
Lois Bullock was a member of the Stewardess Board, Women’s Home & Overseas Missionary Society, North Carolina Club, Lay Council and Bible Study group.
Charles had retired as a church trustee but never really stepped away from serving, pitching in at church events, McLauchlin said.
McLauchlin called Chanda "a giver and a joy" who took the new pastor and his wife for a tour of Rockland County when they arrived at St. Charles in 2017.
"It’s a crushing blow," McLauchlin said Tuesday. "At the same time we’ve been encouraging each other to keep going. It's been difficult to process everything. We’re a strong church and we serve an ever stronger God who’s been helping us get through this. We’re trying to wrap our arms around the rest of the family."
On Tuesday evening, the Piermont police and fire departments planned to hold a parade marking the Bullocks' granddaughter's birthday. They planned to stop in front of the family's home in the village, "to show support to a family that have put their lives on the line in the name of public safety to protect others."
Hannemann Funeral Home in Nyack is handling the arrangements and burial at Rockland Cemetery for Charles Bullock and his daughter.