'He was a giant teddy bear': Lake Taylor High School teacher dies of COVID-19

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Posted at 2:07 PM, Oct 01, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - "You want to hug your loved ones, and you can't," said Alexandra Winston.

The last time Winston got to see her father, 53-year-old Gregory Chappell, was through a glass window in the ICU unit of Sentara CarePlex in Hampton.

"It's not fair on our part, but it's 100% fair for the safety of healthcare workers," she said.

Chappell took his last breath on September 24 after COVID-19 took over his body.

"It started with a headache and he said it was a bad one, but then it turned worse in a matter of hours," Winston told News 3.

Chappell had his first vaccine and was set to get his second two days before his death.

"He was a giant teddy bear. When you needed him, he was there," Winston said.

Chappell, with a larger-than-life personality, was a Spanish teacher at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, and prior to that, he taught in Newport News.

"He was an ultimate Frisbee coach on the side as well; he was always at school," Winston said. "He was a Miami Dolphins lover."

But his biggest loves were his two children and his granddaughter, Coraline.

"My daughter was his pride and joy," she said. "I am grateful he got to meet her, and in that small time in her life, he made a huge impact."

A teacher, a father, a coach, a friend and a family man - gone all too soon.

"He was loved in the community. His teaching and his coaching made an impact. All he wanted to do was make an impact," she said.

Related: 'She was a rare breed': Loved ones remember Virginia Beach teacher after COVID-19 death

A celebration of life will be held for Chappell Saturday at the Buckroe Beach picnic shelter at 12:30 p.m.

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