‘Everybody loved him’: Family says Lansing guard who died from COVID-19 was dedicated to job


LANSING, Kan. — Lansing Correctional Facility is set to honor two officers lost to COVID-19. We’re now learning more about the second officer, 59-year-old Fella Adebiyi.

There are now nearly 900 cases of the coronavirus at Lansing, including both inmates and staff. As the prison works to contain the outbreak, family and friends are grieving two beloved colleagues.

Fella Adebiyi was affectionately known as “Big Daddy” to many friends and family.

“He was a very caring, kind man and everything. Everybody loved him. We are going to miss him a lot,” said Fella’s brother, Bidemi Adebiyi.

The father and grandfather was a public servant who loved his job and making people laugh. But his family fears relentless dedication to his career may have cost him his life.

“We said please stay away, but because he’s too dedicated to his work, he’d say, ‘They need me,'” said Fella’s sister, Sheri Adebiyi.

Two of Fella’s siblings were planning to come back to Kansas from Nigeria. But when the global shutdowns began in March, they got stuck in London.

They constantly worried about their big brother working in the prison during the pandemic because Fella had high blood pressure, making him susceptible to the coronavirus.

“That’s why we try to encourage him not to go to work, not to do this, not to do that. He said everything was OK, and they gave them PPE,” Sheri said.

A few weeks ago, their fears were realized. Fella became one of dozens of Lansing corrections officers diagnosed with coronavirus.

“He called us,” Bidemi said. “And he was coughing,” Sheri said.

The siblings begged him to call an ambulance. He eventually did and was hospitalized. For a while, he seemed to be getting better.

“He was OK because the second or third day, he spoke to us. So we chatted. He was getting better. So we don’t know why everything suddenly went down,” Sheri said.

Kidney failure hit. Fella needed dialysis and a ventilator. He died May 12.

“We couldn’t be there, and he died alone. So that’s one of the most painful facts. That was the very painful part,” Sheri said.

Fella’s family is heartbroken, but grateful for an outpouring of love and support from all over the world. They also pray Fella’s death is a reminder to take the COVID-19 threat seriously.

“We’re saying a big thank you to everybody for what they’ve done so far for us. We really pray for them that God would protect every one of them, and they should keep themselves safe as well. Corona is real. Be safe,” Sheri said.

Lansing Correctional Facility is hosting a drive-thru visitation and vigil in honor of both Officer Fella Adebiyi and Officer Bernie Robare,who also died of COVID-19, Thursday night. The visitation is open to the public, from 5-7 p.m.

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