By all accounts Cathie Albers was a fighter.
The Finley woman survived a heart attack, stroke and brain tumor operation that doctors thought she wouldn’t live through.
But the burns she suffered last week when her bedroom caught fire proved too much. Albers, 63, died on her birthday on Saturday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
“When the fire broke out, Cathie was asleep in her bedroom,” said her husband Bobby Dale Albers, a well-known Tri-City veterans advocate.
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He was playing pool with friends Oct. 9 in a clubhouse behind their home on South Finley Road. When he returned to the house about 6 p.m., he felt a “horrible amount of heat” on their bedroom door.
He forced his way into the darkness.
“It was so black, it resembled an oil well fire,” he said Monday.
He left the room twice to get fresh air before returning. On the third try, he crawled along the floor until he felt her hand, realizing she had rolled off the bed. He pulled her into the hallway and eventually outside.
Benton Fire District 1 investigators say the fire was sparked by a faulty electrical cord Cathie Albers was using for a heating pad to ease her back pain.
She suffered severe burns and had a second heart attack in Seattle, said her husband.
My wife Cathie was everything to me. Everyone who’s been around us knows that.
Bobby Dale Albers
“We had to let her go,” he said. “My wife Cathie was everything to me. Everyone who’s been around us knows that.”
Cathie Albers was born in Richland and spent her life in the Tri-Cities. She and Bobby Dale married in 2004 and celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary in August.
For years, the two helped the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition. They also enjoyed riding on his motorcycle.
She loved to sew and craft, but had to quit and sell her machines because of medical problems. Bobby Dale Albers said she “was definitely a fighter.”
“She was not going to go away,” he said. “And I don’t know why this had to happen to her.”
He’s now staying in a hotel and has offers from friends and neighbors to help him. He said that everyone’s been incredible.
He doesn’t expect to be able to return home for about six months because of the damage. A GoFundme account is helping the family with expenses. The account had raised about $500 of the $5,000 goal by Monday.
Mueller’s Tri-Cities Funeral Home in Kennewick is in charge her arrangements.