MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- A biology professor at the University of South Alabama died after contracting COVID-19.
Dr. Brian Axsmith died early Tuesday morning. According to his sister he had underlying health issues and was diagnosed in late April but continued to teach courses online. She says he was admitted to the hospital on Saturday with breathing issues.
"When he first went in we were pretty optimistic. He was having trouble breathing so they put him on a ventilator and after that it just went downhill pretty fast," said Doreen Axsmith Inmon, Dr. Axsmith's sister.
Inmon still lives in suburban Philadelphia -- where she and her brother grew up. She says he always had a fascination with science from an early age. It started with dinosaurs and paleontology and eventually led him to his love of botany.
"We were always so proud of him. My parents were just always so proud. It's hard to explain. We've just always been so very proud of all of his accomplishments," said Inmon.
Inmon said they come from a very musical family. Her father was a music teacher, which had a huge influence on her and her brother. They both started playing the accordion. She says her brother even played in a polka band as a teenager.
He went on to take up bass and played in a couple of local bands in the Mobile area.
USA's Chemistry Department posted the following on Facebook.
Dr. Tim Sherman wrote, "Brian was more than a wonderful colleague, he was a dear friend. I will remember fondly the many conversations we shared about music, history, politics, and science. I will miss his wry sense of humor and easy going manner. It’s hard for me to believe that he has gone. Truly a loss for our department, the college, and the university. Take care of yourselves and stay well."
Dr. Axsmith was 57-years-old and leaves behind his wife, Jennifer and a son, Jeffrey. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with expenses.