Heart of the Gulf: Baldwin County family counts their blessings this Thanksgiving

Baldwin County

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) – Thomas and his wife Tammy were visiting family in Orange Beach six years ago this week, gearing up for the Iron Bowl watch party at Tammy’s parents’ house. Watching the game together is a tradition they look forward to each year.

“It is truly a house divided. Harry and Betty are both Alabama grads and my wife Tammy, their daughter, is an Auburn grad,” said Thomas Conerly.

It started out as a relaxing afternoon. Harry, an avid runner, went for a two-mile jog before the game. Within seconds of getting back to the house, though, his family knew something wasn’t right.

“Eyes rolled back, let out a groan and of course immediately you knew something was wrong,” Thomas said. 

Thomas, who’s a registered nurse, describes the terrifying moments. He began to administer CPR on his father-in-law, and after eight minutes, he feared the worst.

“8 minutes is a long time to do CPR. I truly thought that I had lost him,” he continued.

But, at that moment Harry took a sudden breath.

“Then, he’s asking why are y’all all around me,” Thomas said.

Harry doesn’t remember much. He was rushed to the hospital and seemed to be doing better by late that afternoon. He tells us he felt tired that morning, but other than that he was feeling what he calls normal.

“When you run marathons and 10K and 5K, you think well your heart’s in good shape,” Harry Clem said.

It was determined he went into cardiac arrest, and those life-saving measures performed by Thomas saved his life.

“I think God used Thomas to help me get back to living,” Harry added.

This year on Thanksgiving week Thomas and Harry are smiling and telling jokes, thankful for another year with family. Harry knows his son-in-law’s quick thinking is the biggest blessing he could ever receive. 

“I don’t take any credit for it. The good Lord put me there when I was supposed to be there,” Thomas said.

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