Family says Lansing Correctional Facility worker died this week from COVID-19

George “Bernie” Robare, left, died of COVID-19 on May 11. He is the first prison employee in Kansas known to have died of the virus. He is pictured with his wife, Susan Robare of Bonner Springs. (Courtesy of Rachel Robare)

by Nomin Ujiyediin, Kansas News Service

George “Bernie” Robare, 61, had worked at the Lansing Correctional Facility in northeast Kansas for more than 35 years. His wife, Susan Robare, told the Kansas News Service that he woke up with a headache and a fever on April 22 and was tested for the coronavirus at the Wyandotte County Health Department.

His positive test result came back two days later, and George Robare was later admitted to Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, where he died Monday morning.

The Lansing Correctional Facility has one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Kansas, with 694 out of 1,700 inmates testing positive for the virus as of Monday. Almost 600 of those cases are asymptomatic. Three people who were incarcerated in the prison died of the virus — two over the age of 50 and one over the age of 60.

Almost 90 Lansing staff members have tested positive for the virus, and Robare, who was a corrections supervisor, is the first known death.

The Kansas Department of Corrections confirmed an employee of the Lansing prison died May 11, but did not provide the name.

“Our staff put themselves on the frontlines every day, but especially during this pandemic,” corrections secretary Jeff Zmuda said in an emailed statement. “We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and to those who worked alongside him for so many years.”

Robare’s wife said in a phone interview that he likely contracted the coronavirus at the prison.

“Once we came home, we never went anywhere,” she said.

She also said she and her husband felt the corrections department’s protections for staff were inadequate. The first cases at Lansing were in staffers, announced by the corrections department on March 31.

“They should have stepped up sooner,” Susan Robare said. “I feel that once we knew it was in the area, that things should have been handled differently.”

Their daughter, Rachel Robare, said she hoped people in the community would take the coronavirus more seriously.

“I feel like this has stolen something from me that I can’t get back, and people need to realize it’s not about you,” she said. “You have to protect the other people in this country.”

Nomin Ujiyediin reports on criminal justice and social welfare for the Kansas News Service. You can email her at nomin (at) kcur (dot) org and follow her on Twitter @NominUJ.
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to
See more at

Online Extension plant sale to be May 1-2

An online plant sale will take place on May 1 and 2 by the Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardeners.

The sale will include tomatoes, peppers, herbs, flowers and shrubs.

Orders will open at 12:01 a.m. May 1 and close at 2 p.m. May 2.

The sale website will be at

All plants are grown by the Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardeners. Funds from the plant sale will go to community projects and youth education.

Saturday events

Opening day at the lake to be Saturday
Saturday, March 7, is the opening day of fishing season at Wyandotte County Lake, 91st and Leavenworth Road. The lake opens at 6 a.m. There will be a breakfast in conjunction with the lake opening at the marina from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. The cost of the breakfast will be $8. State and county fishing permits are required for most anglers. To see the fishing rules, visit

Watch marbles being made at Marble Crazy in Bonner Springs
Visitors may watch marbles being made in four demonstration areas by more than 25 artists at the Marble Crazy event Saturday, March 7, at Moon Marble Co., 600 E. Front St., Bonner Springs, Kansas. The hours of the event are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Family story time planned
Family story time is planned from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 7, at the youth services craft room, Main Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. There will be reading, dancing and singing. The story time is geared to children ages 2 to 6. For other library activities, visit

Spanish singing lessons planned
“Clases de Canto,” or Spanish singing lessons, are planned from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in Conference Room B, South Branch Library, 3104 Strong Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The Spanish language singing class is taught by Sandra Zamora. For other library programs, visit

STEM crafts planned at library
Chessboard Bazillions will be presented at 1 p.m. March 7 at the craft room, Main Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. Children and teens will observe what happens if they put one piece of candy on a chess square, two on the next square, four on the next square and on up. The power of exponential growth will be discussed. All materials are provided. Participants may stay for a game of chess. The program is for ages 6 and up. Registration is requested to

Musical presented at Bishop Ward
“Beauty and the Beast” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Bishop Ward High School, 708 N. 18th St., Kansas City, Kansas. The musical will be presented at the Bishop Ward theater on the second floor.

Sporting KC plays home opener Saturday
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 points) will kick off the club’s 10th home campaign at world-class Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Sporting KC will play Houston Dynamo (0-0-1, 1 point). For more information, visit