June 17, 2020
When talk of retirement came up, Wanda DeSelle, 76, would always laugh it off.
“I’ll retire after you do,” Mrs. DeSelle would tell her boss of 40 years, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, a cardiologist seven years her junior. “She’d say, ‘If you’ll work for another 20 years, then I’ll work for another 20 years,’” he recalled.
Mrs. DeSelle was the office manager at Dr. Ashraf’s six-person medical practice in Madera, a small city in the Central Valley northwest of Fresno. She worked full time with hardly a day off. Her husband died five years ago and she said she’d be bored at home anyway.
A sign in the reception area read, “Do you want to talk to the boss or the person who really knows something here?” Everyone in the office knew that person was Mrs. DeSelle. “She did everything,” Dr. Ashraf said.
In mid-March, Mrs. DeSelle left work early with a stomachache. Her condition declined rapidly and she went to the hospital, where she tested positive for Covid-19 and was eventually put on a ventilator. She died on April 3.
“Her laugh is the majority of my memories of her,” Brenda Alvarez, a medical assistant who worked with Mrs. DeSelle for two decades, said. “You could just see the sparkle in her eye when she would laugh and you knew that she was just happy.”
Mrs. DeSelle is survived by two children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.