Garteh Korkoryah, mother of Thomas Eric Duncan, has her tears wiped by her great-grandson Josephus Weeks III at a memorial service for her son, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, in Salisbury, N.C. Duncan died of Ebola in Dallas on Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) — Thomas Eric Duncan was remembered Saturday as a big-hearted and compassionate man whose virtues may have led to his infection with Ebola in his native Liberia and death as the first victim of the disease in the United States.
Family and friends gathered Saturday at a Southern Baptist church with a primarily Liberian flock in the North Carolina city of Salisbury, near where Duncan’s mother lives.
Retired United Methodist bishop Arthur Kulah remembers that during the Liberian civil war of the 1990s, Duncan jury-rigged a telephone connection allowing fellow refugees in Ivory Coast to call family abroad for help. Kulah says Duncan sometimes allowed people to call knowing he wouldn’t be paid.
Duncan’s neighbors in Liberia believe he was infected by helping a pregnant neighbor who later died from Ebola.