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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice


February 2021

TDCJ Mourns the Loss of Tawiwo Obele

CO IV Tawiwo Obele
CO IV Tawiwo Obele

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is grieving the loss of an employee that is connected to the COVID-19 virus.

68-year-old Correctional Officer IV Tawiwo Obele had two years of service with the TDCJ and was assigned to the Beto Unit in Palestine. She tested positive for COVID-19 in unit mass testing on January 31, 2021. She was hospitalized in Palestine on February 9, 2021, with COVID symptoms but was released the same day. She later fell ill and had to be transported to a Tyler hospital. Officer Obele died in the early morning hours of February 16, 2021.

“Nearly a year into the COVID pandemic the losses to the TDCJ family continue,” said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “Every loss has been a tragic moment for the agency and all of us who are a part of that family. Officer Obele had a zest for life that was obvious to all. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Obele family and friends.”

“Officer Obele was a well-respected faithful teammate who was known as a mother figure to all,” said Kirt Stiefer, TDCJ Beto Unit Senior Warden. “She would often pray with others and enjoyed sharing her passion of Christ. Officer Obele will be truly missed by the many that were blessed by having her in their lives.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has had forty employees who have died in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.