Tributes for loving dad as family battles virus

The fit Riverland grandfather, 76, was above all else a caring family man, who doted on his six grandchildren, his three stepchildren and his wife of 32 years, Sandi, 74.

His grieving family has paid tribute after the retired tourism operator lost his brave fight against coronavirus in the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s intensive care unit a week ago.

Mr Todd, universally called “Mal” and known for his favourite attire of navy shorts, blue singlet and brown boots, contracted COVID-19 while visiting his son in the Barossa Valley last month.

His wife, a school bus driver, remained in isolation last night at their Barmera home, after also contracting the virus.

She is hoping to return a negative test by Friday, so she can join nine family and friends to say farewell at his cremation in Adelaide.

“He was a caring person – he was always there in the background helping others,” she told The Advertiser.

“He was a bit of larrikin, which we loved about him.

“He loved to have a bit of fun and joke. He was very much ‘what you saw is what you got’ with him. There was no pretences – proved by him always being in shorts and a singlet. Mal was a good man.

“He was a good husband and he was a really good father to my three children.”

The pair, who marked their wedding anniversary four days before he died, travelled 171km to Lyndoch Hill winery on Saturday, March 14, to visit eldest son Craig Penlington, 55, a leading Switzerland-based chef. Mr Penlington was hosting a high-end Swiss food and wine tour group. Some of the group also contracted the virus, as did Mr Penlington.

“If there was any inkling of risk, we wouldn’t have gone, simple,” Mrs Todd said. “When we went there and had dinner … they weren’t even talking about social distancing.”

They are among a cluster of 40 Barossa cases. Mr Todd, a central Australian businessman who loved caravanning, felt unwell the next Friday and was tested on Saturday.

The following Tuesday, he was flown to the RAH”s ICU, eight years after having a triple heart bypass. His condition deteriorated and his final words to his wife that day were: “I think I am going to sleep now.”

He was placed in an induced coma and never woke.

His family said goodbye via Skype. “It was awful. It was so hard,” his wife said.

She urged people to heed restrictions and is frustrated at those who “complain about the inconvenience”. “Who would want to go through what we’ve gone through,” she said. “I don’t think some people fully comprehend that this virus kills.”