Remembering the lives lost to COVID-19: Theodis Quarles, 48, of Memphis

This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.

Theodis Ray Quarles, 48, of Memphis died on Dec. 18 after becoming ill with COVID-19. He’s among the more than 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the disease since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic early last year.

His wife, Vickie Quarles, told Yahoo News that “to know him was to love him” and that he was “an outstanding man who would give his shirt off his back for you.”

Quarles was a sales territory manager at Direct Auto Insurance for 10 years, and his wife said he was very dedicated to his job. “That was like his second family. He went above and beyond. He never missed a day. If he missed work, it was detrimental [to him].”

Theodis Quarles (Courtesy of the family)
Theodis Quarles (Courtesy of the family)

Vickie and Theodis met 14 years ago at a gas station. She says her parents, who were married for over 40 years, had met at a gas station as well.

The day Vickie met Theodis, she refused to give him her phone number at first, but when they ran into each other twice that same day, she says she saw it all as a sign they were meant to be together. The couple were married for 12 years, and Vickie says her husband was her soulmate and best friend. “I feel like a piece of my soul left with him,” she said.

Aside from being a wonderful husband, Vickie says, Theodis was “an exceptional father” to his eight children, including the five daughters they had together. She says he instilled great values in their children, and also always reminded them they deserved great things in life.

“He always preached to the girls, know your worth on anything — school, work, boyfriend, whatever, know your worth,” Vickie said.

The Quarles family contracted COVID in December. They all recuperated except for Theodis, who took a turn for the worse and was rushed to the hospital on Dec. 17. He died the next day.

Losing Theodis so suddenly has been devastating for his family. His wife says the hardest part has been dealing not only with her own grief, but that of her daughters.

“They’re trying to understand why daddy turned into an angel. They’re trying to understand why we didn’t all turn into an angel at the same time and we all had it,” she said.


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