By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — His family says he still thought of himself as a teenager. He was a self-described tough guy from Eagan who survived the Vietnam War.

But, Terry Klante lost his battle to COVID-19 in April at 75. Ricky Klante remembers his dad was always there for his family and friends.

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“He’d always drop everything he was doing and say what do you need kid?” Ricky Klante remembered.

His dad had a quick wit that put people at ease.

“Funny, sense of humor, wonderful. Yes,” his daughter-in-law Mary Klante said.

Terry was most proud of his Air Force service in Vietnam where in two years he had too many close calls to count.

“He just had that mentality COVID won’t get me. I beat Vietnam. We’re good,” Ricky said.

But, when he came home to recover from a successful quadruple bypass surgery in April, Terry realized something wasn’t right.

“He kept telling my mom I should be able to catch my breath by now, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. By the fourth day he said I couldn’t breathe at all I have to get back to the hospital,” Ricky said.

It’s when Terry tested positive for COVID-19.  He was transferred to Bethesda — the state’s only dedicated hospital for COVID care.

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“The nurses and doctors worked fearlessly not only for him but all the patients that were there,” Mary recalled.

For two weeks, he was hooked up to a ventilator. His new and improved heart, still no match to the powerful virus.

“The last night he was with us he went downhill and we got the call there was nothing more they could do for him,” Mary said.

A sudden decline that left his high school sweetheart and wife of 56 years heartbroken.

“The hardest thing is my mom doesn’t have closure. She couldn’t go up there, that’s the hardest thing to deal with right now,” Ricky said.

The Klante’s will have a small service at Fort Snelling later this month where there dad will be laid to rest.

As they remind others now to wear masks, wash hands and to let the people that matter most know how you feel.

“I know a lot of people out there don’t think this COVID is real but it is so real,” they said.

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Liz Collin