Newspaper delivery woman Debbie Brazell is use to providing a chronicle of daily life. But Monday she delivered much more to one longtime customer in the Rosewood neighborhood.
“I have no doubt but that what Debbie did saved that woman’s life,” Louis Funchess, a neighbor and caretaker at Suber-Marshall Memorial United Methodist, said Thursday.
Brazell has been delivering The State to subscribers for close to 35 years. Neighborhood resident Annie-Ruth Cooper, 93, has been a customer more than 20 years.
Monday morning, Brazell noticed newspapers had piled up in the paper box at home of “Miss Cooper.” That was unusual.
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After completing her route, Brazell swung back by Cooper’s house to see if her customer had picked up her papers. The pile of papers was untouched.
So Brazell checked with a neighbor, who telephoned Cooper. No answer. Brazell then knocked on Cooper’s front door.
‘“Miss Cooper ... it’s Debbie, are you in there?’” Brazell said, recalling the tense moments that would follow.
‘“Yes, I’m here in the kitchen, I fell and can’t move,’” Cooper said in a weakened voice.
Brazell tried to control her shock. “I walked away from the door at that point. I got hysterical and didn’t want her to hear me.”
Brazell called 911 and flagged down Funchess who was driving to his job.
“She was really upset and hollering,” Funchess said of the delivery woman. “We need to call the police, break in, get the lady some help,” he told Brazell.
“They had to break down the door to get in,” Brazell said of Columbia firefighters.
“She was really cold when we got in there. It looked like she might have slipped going through the door into the kitchen,” Brazell said.
Cooper had blacked out on Friday and by the time she got to the hospital Monday, she was severely dehydrated, a nephew later told Funchess.
The nephew said his aunt was going to be OK. But she would not have lasted much longer if help had not arrived, Funchess said, recounting the conversation with Cooper’s relative.
Since the episode with Cooper, Brazell said she’s taken precaution for other elderly customers on her route.
“I have another lady in her 80s on the route. I asked her for her son’s phone number just in case it’s ever needed,” she said.
Funchess isn’t surprised by what Brazell did.
“I’ve known Debbie for years, she’s just that kind of person,” he said.
So what he found wrapped in his Tuesday morning paper seemed fitting.
“Thank you for your help, Debbie,”the handwritten note stated.