WAUKESHA, Wis. - Students and staff in the Carroll University nursing program are mourning one of their own. Professor James LaRosa passed away from COVID-19.
When Carroll University students return to campus on Jan. 18, the beloved instructor will not be joining them.
"It’s hard to understand because he’s been there through everything else," said Meghan Grimm, a nursing student.
LaRosa died on New Year's Day from complications related to COVID-19. He worked as a faculty member at the nursing school, earning his doctorate in nursing practices along the way.
Grimm said LaRosa was fondly-known as Jim within the tight-knit program. She said she will remember his joy and passion for teaching.
"Jim was a professor that bent over backward for every student that he had," Grimm said.
LaRosa's husband, Bradley, said the 44-year-old had a clean bill of health prior to being hospitalized with the virus in November.
"He has a few minor things like a little bit of asthma when he was younger, but nothing that should have predicted this," said Bradley LaRosa.
The couple had two sons. They tied the knot this past August after being together for nearly nine years.
"I just want people to remember him for the selfless person that he was. He took care of everyone else before he thought about taking care of himself," Bradley LaRosa said.
Back at Carroll University, the loss feels like deja vu. During Thanksgiving, the nursing school lost another faculty member to COVID-19.
Kelly Raether, who also worked as an EMT in Ixonia, was LaRosa's good friend.
"These were two people in the prime of their life who had promising careers in nursing education. And they will be terribly missed," said Teresa Kaul, Carroll University Department of Nursing chairperson.
Kaul said counseling has been made available for staff and students. A candlelight vigil is also planned in LaRosa's memory once classes resume.