In a new place with a new house, Maria and Jay Corcoran couldn’t wait to start the next chapter of their young family’s life. Coming from Utah, they moved to Lake Stevens with their daughter and baby boy Feb. 7.
On Feb. 8, James David “Jay” Corcoran turned 40. On Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, the Air Force veteran, chef and beloved father and husband died.
Along with his widow, he leaves Ana, 8, and Jimmy, an 11-month-old whose full name is James David Corcoran Jr. — after his dad.
“We were supposed to be starting this crazy new adventure together,” said Maria Corcoran, 37. “Then every bad thing, the worst-case scenario, happened in 24 hours.”
Suffering a severe earache, Jay Corcoran visited a clinic in Lake Stevens on Feb. 10. Over-the-counter medications helped, and he spent that night at home. But by Feb. 11, he was again in excruciating pain. His wife said he went to an urgent care facility in Everett. Maria Corcoran said staff there recommended the emergency room.
At Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s Colby Campus on Feb. 11, Corcoran had the first of three heart attacks he would have over the next few days. He lapsed into a coma, which was not medically induced. Doctors eventually found he suffered from bacterial meningitis, which can be caused by an ear or sinus infection.
By last Sunday, he was unresponsive. Maria Corcoran said doctors began talking about brain death. On Monday, she said, her husband was given an electroencephalogram (EEG) test to evaluate brain activity. “We found out he was brain dead,” she said.
Close friends and family, including Maria’s parents Ramon and Judy Gomez and her brother Patrick Gomez, traveled from Utah, Colorado and Oregon for final farewells. The couple’s daughter was allowed to stay at the hospital Monday night with her dad.
“We said goodbye to him Tuesday afternoon, Valentine’s Day,” Maria Corcoran said.
Born in Danvers, Massachusetts, Jay Corcoran served as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. His wife said his desire to settle in the Northwest began when he was stationed with the Air Force in Pierce County.
“For three years, he was actively trying to convince me to get up here,” said Maria Corcoran, who works for Adobe Systems. She has worked seven years for the company, in search engine marketing, and recently transferred to the Adobe office in Seattle’s Fremont area.
“We made it happen. We listed our house in Utah the Monday before Christmas. We looked for houses and fell in love with Lake Stevens,” she said.
In recent years, Jay had been a stay-home parent. After military duty, he studied to be a chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, his wife said. He worked in restaurants in the ski resort towns of Jackson, Wyoming, and Park City, Utah, before deciding that work as a professional chef took too much time away from family.
The couple met at the No Name Saloon &Grill in Park City, Utah, and married on June 28, 2006.
“He always loved cooking and was looking into doing a food truck, maybe at one of the tech companies. He gave up his job for us,” said Maria, adding that her husband had also worked in real estate.
Before Jimmy came along, her husband joked that theirs was a “one-and-done, one-kid family,” Maria Corcoran said. Ana wanted a brother or sister. “I convinced him, but I had to give up naming rights,” Maria said. The baby she calls her husband’s “mini me” will celebrate his first birthday in March.
Judy Gomez said a celebration of life for her son-in-law will be planned later in Utah. At the couple’s new home Friday, unpacked boxes were stacked in several rooms.
“I walked in and wondered, do we pack or do we unpack?” said Maria’s mother, who was still visiting her daughter Friday.
Maria Corcoran’s parents, who live in Park City, said they talked with their daughter about returning to Utah. “My parents would be happy if I went back, but this was too important for us,” Maria said.
And so, stunned by loss, she is starting her new life as a solo parent. Thursday was Ana’s first day of third grade at Highland Elementary School in Lake Stevens. She brought home a welcome bag decorated by classmates and filled with candy.
Maria Corcoran is grateful to Adobe, which granted her several weeks of bereavement leave. She’ll need day care for Jimmy and after-school care for Ana. Her daughter has already joined a Girl Scout troop, and Maria is amazed by the support from other mothers involved in the group.
The family is overwhelmed, too, that a GoFundMe fundraising account for the Corcorans, set up by Maria’s sister-in-law Kristina Humphries Gomez, had raised more than $35,000 by Friday afternoon. “I am blown away by the donations — friends of friends of friends,” Maria’s brother Patrick Gomez said from Utah. “And neighbors are showing up to help.”
Maria Corcoran said her husband “was just a good guy.”
“There was not a better husband or father,” she said. “He wanted us to be here. We’re still going to do the adventure.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
An online fundraising account has been established to help Maria Corcoran and her family with medical and other expenses. Her husband Jay Corcoran died Tuesday. The family had just moved from Utah to Lake Stevens. Donations may be made at: www.gofundme.com/support-for-the-corcoran-family