• 81°

Family, friends raising funds for beloved community members Joe Oates & family of Russell Cessac

Although he remains hospitalized with COVID-19, friends of a well-known business owner say he is a fighter.

“They’ve reduced his oxygen,” James VanDevender said of Boss Burger owner Joe Oates. “He’s holding his own. No organs are being affected. He’s just trying to survive. He’s fighting.”

Since 2014, Oates and his wife Mary have been known for preparing some of the best burgers in Mid and South county. In fact, that’s how he and VanDevender became such good friends.

“When he first started on Twin City Highway in the trailer, I met Joe and Mary there,” VanDevender said. “I’m retired and got to talking to them and we became friends. My family always went there. I started pushing their business on Facebook.”

Now VanDevender is an admin on the business page.

“Me and my wife, we do things with them,” he said. “I love Joe and Mary. I look at them as family.”

Oates was hospitalized in early August due to COVID-complications and currently is hospitalized in Houston, where he is on a ventilator.

To help the local couple, VanDevender, Jeanine Hebert and Jeri McCrown have pulled together to start fundraising opportunities. The three are looking at everything from link sales to other ideas.

VanDevender said anyone with suggestions or looking to donate towards a fundraiser can contact the group, which can be found on Facebook under “Fundraiser for Joe and Mary A/K/A Mr. and Mrs. Boss Burger.”

Gift cards can be brought to Ace Hobby, 1619 Nederland Avenue. And an account has been set up at Neches Federal Credit Unit under Benefit for Boss Burger Owners Joe and Mary, no. 3070890.

“We’re all praying every day,” VanDevender said.

Funds are also being raised for Russell Cessac, of Nederland, who died Aug. 10 in local hospital less than a week after his motorcycle collided with a car on Helena Avenue.

“Russell was the sweetest man with the kindest heart,” wrote Kari Butler, who organized a GoFundMe for Cessac’s family. “Although no amount of money can replace him being here on Earth, our hope is that we can make this transition a little easier by easing the financial burden of medical expenses and funeral expenses for his family.”

The online fundraiser, which had brought in more than $16,600 by Monday afternoon, can be found by searching “Russell Cessac Medical and Funeral Expenses” on GoFundMe.