Traveling nurse from Tennessee dies in New York on front lines of COVID-19 fight

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A traveling nurse from Tennessee, who volunteered to care for COVID-19 patients in New York City, has died.

Denny Gilliam’s passing was sudden, but the cause is unknown. 

“He made a comment to me that he felt more alive than he ever had, but he was also scared,” said Greg Gilliam. 

No stranger to service, Gilliam was familiar with self-sacrifice, spending time in the National Guard and the Air Force, before his next calling. 

“After he got out of the military, he went to nursing school. He was a nurse since 1996,” Gilliam said.  

Greg Gilliam, the older brother still wrestling with the loss of his sibling two weeks ago.   

“We don’t know what caused his death, they told me natural causes but could be some other things.”  

Native to Pelham, Tennessee, a faithful Volunteer football fan, a dad to two sons and two daughters. Denny Gilliam died in New York. He was a traveling nurse, and one of the best, his brother said, told so by the healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19. 

“He always uplifted them when he came in, always had a smile on his face, but he could do his job,” says the elder Gilliam. “It just makes me feel good that he wasn’t up there, hiding to get home, he was doing his thing, really out there.”  

Gilliam volunteered to care for the most vulnerable, to set an example for the ones he loved most, those now left behind.      

“He loved his children more than anything else in the world, he tried to be the best father he could, that was part of the reason he went up there.”  

It could be six months to determine the exact cause, following toxicology tests. Denny Gilliam was 53.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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