The Pain of Dying Alone

One of the saddest days of my nursing career happened when I made shift rounds and found that an elderly patient was in the throes of death, alone. I didn't know him, but I stayed with him until his final breath. No one should have to die alone. But with COVID-19, they are and will continue to die with no loved ones nearby.

When Did Death Fog Victims Perish?

Ceh and Kirkwood were the first Donorans to die in the Donora Death Fog of 1948. At least 18 more followed, most of them the same night. Ceh died from sudden heart failure, Jeanie of asthma. Both of their death certificates indicate they died at 2:00 AM on the deadliest day of the smog, Saturday, October 30, 1948.

Social Life in 1940s Donora

For decades during the mid-1900s a Chamber of Commerce sign at the Donora town line read, “NEXT TO YOURS THE BEST TOWN IN THE USA.” Donorans found an odd pride in being a second-best town, no matter where a visitor came from. Perhaps that was to be expected. The town didn’t originate naturally, as a place people moved to because they liked the area or as a natural outgrowth of an urban area. No, it originated because industrialists in Pittsburgh thought it would make the best spot to build steel and zinc mills.