Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s wife Julia Barnhill Letlow thanked well-wishers for their prayers and revealed that her husband was in stable condition only two days before he took a turn for the worse and tragically died after COVID-19 complications.
“Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers and well wishes,” Julia Barnhill Letlow wrote on Facebook.
“While Luke continues his treatment and remains in stable condition, the doctors have told us the road to recovery and the length of time is hard to predict and different for everyone. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of support we have received and feel truly blessed to be touched by the prayers of so many. However, we are now asking for your patience as we face this battle privately as a family in order to give Luke the rest he needs to ensure his recovery. We will do our best to keep everyone informed on Luke’s progress through posts here and appreciate your understanding as we navigate this journey.”
She also wrote, “Please keep Luke lifted and all those who are facing covid❤️🙏”
Tragically, Letlow died at age 41, the Louisiana governor has confirmed. According to LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali, Letlow died “from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection,” the News Star reported.
“He had no underlying conditions,” Ghali said. “It was just COVID.”
“It is with heavy hearts that @FirstLadyOfLA and I offer our condolences to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s family on his passing after a battle with COVID-19. #lagov,” Governor John Bel Edwards wrote on Twitter on December 29. “Louisiana has lost more than 7,300 people to COVID-19 since March, and each one of them leaves a tremendous hole in our state.”
According to Politico, Letlow is the first member of Congress (or Congressperson-elect) to die of COVID-19 complications. He was a Republican who was only days away from being sworn into office.
Here’s what you need to know about Letlow’s wife and family:
1. Julia Letlow, Who Works for a Monroe University, Has Two Kids With Luke Letlow
The couple has two young children, and both of Letlows plastered their social media accounts with pictures of their young family.
Julie Letlow, who has a PhD, is an “Executive Assistant to the President for External Affairs and Community Outreach at University of Louisiana at Monroe,” according to her LinkedIn page.
Among other duties, Julie describes her job as providing “executive level strategy, vision, and oversight to enhance external affairs and community outreach for the university. Report directly to the President and serve on his Executive Council and Administrative Staff Council. Represent the university with members of Congress, federal, state, and local government officials, governors, parish presidents, school superintendents, and mayors; including establishing and maintaining relationships with officials at all levels of government and their staff.”
Before that, she was Executive Director of External Affairs & Strategic Communications and Director of Marketing and Communications at the same university. She was previously director of education, director of Resident Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, and a clinical instructor at Tulane University in New Orleans.
She was an ombudsperson, special projects coordinator at the University of Louisiana-Monroe and was a teaching associate at the University of South Florida and the University of Louisiana Monroe.
She has a PhD in Communication from the University of South Florida, an MA in Speech Communication and a BA in Speech Communication from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she was in the Kappa Delta Sorority and ran track and field.
2. Julia Letlow Has Suffered Family Tragedy Before
On LinkedIn, Julia wrote that she serves as president of the Jeremy Barnhill Foundation for Christian teens. Jeremy, Julia’s brother, died in a traffic crash as a teenager.
The group’s Instagram page describes it by saying, “The Jeremy Barnhill Foundation exists to connect the next generation with God by sponsoring youth to attend Christian events.”
“‘Smart, confident and articulate,’ describes Dr. Julia Barnhill,” wrote a person who gave Julia a recommendation on LinkedIn.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing her for approximately 5 years. She is an extremely driven professional who offers a vast range of personal and professional work experience, knowledge and innovative ideas to all given projects and tasks. She is a fantastic speaker/consultant and facilitator who captivate her audience with passion for communication. Julia brings a high level of creativity, energy and dedication whether in the classroom, boardroom or in her field of study. Julia understands creative strategies and strengths in individuals or teams which makes her capable of bringing out the best in anyone.”
3. Letlow Announced His COVID-19 Diagnosis on December 18, Dying Only 11 Days Later
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) December 30, 2020
Letlow announced his diagnosis on December 18, tweeting, “Thank you to everyone for your kind words and prayers. I have tested positive for COVID-19. I’m at home resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols, and the recommendations of my doctors.”
Andrew Bautsch, a representative for Letlow, confirmed Letlow’s death to WDSU-TV. He told the television station that the Congressman-elect died on December 29 at the hospital and that the cause of death was “due to complications from COVID-19.”
If we’re going to bring jobs and opportunity to #LA05, we need a congressman focused on solutions, not soundbites. I know what it takes to bring home results and I’ll never stop fighting to move this district forward.
— Luke Letlow (@LukeLetlow) November 28, 2020
“Letlow was admitted into a Monroe Hospital on December 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to Ochsner-LSU Health on Tuesday, December 22, and placed in intensive care,” the statement to WDSU read.
“Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, Phd., and two young children.”
The governor added, “I have ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Congressman-elect Letlow’s funeral.”
— Luke Letlow (@LukeLetlow) December 23, 2020
In a statement titled “condition update” on December 23, Bautsch provided this information:
“Congressman-elect Luke Letlow has been transferred from St. Francis medical center in Monroe, LA to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center in Shreveport, LA as he continues to undergo treatment for COVID-19,” that statement said. “The Letlow family is deeply appreciative of the medical team at St. Francis Medical center in Monroe for their fantastic care, and is thankful for all of the prayers and support they continue to receive.”
The statement quoted Dr. G.E. Gali, Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport, as saying, “Congressman-elect Letlow is in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit where he is receiving Remdesivir and steroids as part of his regiment therapy.”
4. Letlow’s Wife Posted Updates on Facebook; Letlow Praised His Wife as a ‘Force to be Reckoned With’
In August, Letlow praised his wife on Facebook, writing,
Yesterday, I watched with pride and awe as my wife interviewed as a semi-finalist for the ULM Presidential search. She let her passion to better this region and her bold vision for ULM guide her as she interviewed with grace and strength. Anyone who truly knows my wife knows that her determination is a force to be reckoned with, her vision is inspiring, and her passion is contagious. Julia, I am so proud of you for stepping forward, and I know there are many others who feel the same way. While this may not have been your time, you are destined for greatness. And it will be the highest honor of my life to be by your side through it all.
Julia Letlow provided some updates on social media about her husband’s COVID battle.
On December 27, Letlow’s wife wrote on Facebook, “Thank you for the inquiries, love, and prayers. Moving forward, we will use Luke’s FB page to provide all updates. Much love to all of you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts! ❤️🙏”
On December 21, Luke Letlow posted this statement to Twitter, “Thank you for the continued outpouring of prayers and support for my family and me. I am currently undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at St. Francis Hospital by a wonderful team of doctors and nurses. I am confident that with their help that I will be on the mend soon.”
He added, “For those who’ve had Covid already, your plasma is ESPECIALLY needed by those who are suffering. I cannot stress this enough. Please consider saving lives by going out and donating at your local blood bank. It may very well be the gift of life that you are giving a family this Christmas.”
5. Luke Letlow Was a Congressman’s Chief of Staff Before Being Elected to the Position Himself
Luke Letlow was elected to Congress in Louisiana’s 5th District with 62 percent of the vote. “Thank you to my supporters and the voters from every corner of the #LA05. We are so grateful for those who helped us cross the finish line,” he wrote. “I’m ready to get to work & am focused on bringing jobs, investment and opportunity to our district!”
According to Ballotpedia, Luke Letlow was born in Monroe, Louisiana. “He earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech University in 2003. Letlow’s career experience includes working as Chief of Staff to Congressman Ralph Abraham (R).” He was elected to replace Abraham in Congress.
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