A beloved fixture in downtown Frederick’s restaurant community died Wednesday after being treated for flu-related symptoms at Frederick Memorial Hospital, family and friends said.

Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Lambdin confirmed that an adult patient died at Frederick Memorial Hospital this week while being treated for the flu. Lambdin did not release or confirm the patient’s name, but friends identified her as Colleen Magrann Morin, a well-known and much-loved bartender and de facto manager at Firestone’s Culinary Tavern.

Morin, 41, was the “heart and soul” of the local restaurant industry and a beloved face in downtown Frederick, where she lived with her husband, Casey, said Joan Rambo, a fellow bartender who worked with Casey at Guido’s bar on North Market Street.

While friends knew that Morin had been sick with the flu for at least a week, the news of her death on Wednesday came as a complete shock to the community, said Logan Hunter, a longtime friend and general manager at Cafe Nola.

“All we really heard as far as the details is that she had had the flu for the past couple weeks,” Hunter said. “But we knew she was trying to take care of herself — eating right, taking her Emergen-C, all of that.”

“We were expecting good news,” said Rambo, who said that Morin was taken to the hospital by ambulance on Wednesday for her symptoms. “She was so young, so full of life. Nobody could have ever expected this.”

Flu complications among healthy adults are extremely rare, said Dr. Vipul Kella, the medical director of the FMH emergency department. Kella could not talk specifically about Morin’s case, but said that Frederick County — along with the rest of the country — has been experiencing a particularly brutal flu season driven largely by a more aggressive strain of the virus.

Roughly 20 percent of emergency room patients at FMH are coming to the hospital for flu cases or flu-related symptoms, Kella said.

“It’s not a new strain. It just happens to be more prevalent this year,” Kella said. “It’s extremely rare for healthy people to develop complications from the flu, but I can tell you this strain has come earlier, been a little bit more aggressive and has resulted in more hospitalizations for people who are particularly vulnerable.”

Federal health officials said Friday that this year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse, according to a report in The New York Times.

The most recent flu surveillance report from the Maryland Department of Health listed the statewide intensity of influenza-like illness as high, with widespread geographic activity.

There have been 16,949 flu-related emergency room visits across the state this season and 1,328 hospitalizations, according to the report.

While Kella urged residents to take precautions against the flu, including frequent hand-washing and getting a flu shot, he said that otherwise healthy patients should not come to the emergency room unless they experience severe symptoms, such as lethargy, shortness of breath and uncontrolled vomiting.

Otherwise, the virus is best treated at home or by a primary care doctor.

“By coming into the emergency room as a healthy adult, you’re putting more vulnerable populations, like the elderly or the very young, at risk,” Kella said.

A community
in mourning

When Rambo first heard the news of Morin’s death, she said she went straight to Guido’s, where staff members closed early to grieve and process the loss.

Oliver Lynch, another longtime friend, said he immediately headed to Firestone’s to be with Morin’s friends and co-workers. The sorrow at the restaurant was palpable, he said.

Firestone’s, where Morin had worked for about 10 years, was closed on Thursday, and the entrance to the restaurant was almost immediately covered with at least two dozen flower bouquets from customers and other community members whose lives she had touched.

“She was very much the backbone for the restaurant industry community,” Lynch said. He first met Morin about 10 years ago, when he started working at Firestone’s as an 18-year-old novice in the service world.

“The restaurant industry is very demanding, it’s very fast-paced and it’s very unforgiving, and Firestone’s is a tough place to work because they expect a certain level of performance from everyone,” Lynch said. “Colleen was like a Mother Goose figure — she was the person you could go to if you were having a stressful shift or needed to talk.”

Lynch remembered that Morin would look over him at work “like a mom getting you ready before you went out for a snowstorm.” The older employee made sure that he was prepared for his shift and had everything he needed to do his best work, Lynch said.

The same was true for Hunter, who also met Colleen around 10 years ago when he started working at Firestone’s as a food runner. Beyond her mentorship to younger employees in the service industry, she was known for her bubbly smile and cheer, he said.

“The way I’ve heard Colleen described is, nobody is perfect but she was as close as anyone was ever going to get,” Hunter said. “A lot of people also have said that she truly is like a beam of sunlight personified into a person. Her smile would light up a room.”

For members of downtown Frederick’s tight-knit restaurant industry, visiting Morin at work was something of a ritual. Rambo and Hunter said that it was a Sunday night tradition for restaurant workers to end their shifts and head to Firestone’s, where Colleen was always working the bar.

She was also known for the Facebook posts she made to promote Firestone’s little-known Sunday happy hour, Rambo said. The posts generally featured her face superimposed on to a famous movie scene, along with her co-workers’, and a long quote from the film.

Morin loved ’80s movies the most, according to Hunter, but the posts became something that the entire community — movie fans or not — looked forward to.

“They were just hilarious,” Rambo said. “She was hilarious. Just warm and goofy and funny. And really, she was a good example of how we should treat one another and how we should care about one another.”

Morin was also loved by her customers at Firestone’s, who often treated her as a cross between a counselor and best friend, Rambo said. Blessed with an attention to detail, Morin could remember minute details about people — the names of partners, children, or even a beloved pet — and bring them up whenever a friend, customer or co-worker came by to talk.

“She just made you feel accepted and loved and cherished,” Rambo said. “You always felt like she was paying attention to you.”

Even with customers who behaved badly, Hunter added, Morin was a hit.

“Even on the rare occasion when she had to cut someone off or kick them out, they would almost thank her for it,” he said.

The love between Morin and Casey, a major force in her life, was also a privilege to witness, Rambo said. Guido’s was flooded with bouquets from customers and friends who knew the couple, and the bar will donate a portion of its proceeds on Friday and Saturday night to Casey and other family members, said owner David Demory.

Cafe Nola is also hosting a silent auction on Sunday to benefit Morin’s family, according to Hunter. All proceeds from the auction, and half of all bar sales from 7 p.m. to closing will go directly to family members, he said.

For friends and co-workers, supporting Morin’s husband and family was just one way to honor her memory.

“It’s basically just a way for people to do something productive,” said Lynch, who organized the auction. “It’s a good way for the community to show how much they loved her. Because she was probably one of the most well-liked, genuine people I’ve ever met in my life. You can get a drink anywhere, but you could only get Colleen at Firestone’s.”

Follow Kate Masters on Twitter: @kamamasters.

Kate Masters is the features and food reporter for The Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at kmasters@newspost.com.

(53) comments


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I'm so disappointed that commentors felt the need to address anything other than the tragic death of a young woman. I pray for her family and friends to be blessed with peace and comfort.


This is the news section, not the obituary section.


Rest in peace, Colleen. A huge loss for our community.


My condolences to her family and friends. It's a tragedy.


From what I have read and been told by people in the medical background, no, the flu virus doesn't give you the flu, but it does not necessarily protect you from THAT years flu. There are several flu viruses that cycle around the globe, generally 1 a year, and there are maybe 50-60 major ones out there. So, the current years vaccine is generally a crap shoot to protect you against this years. Yes, it uses a dead virus from a prior year. Its intent is to boost your immune system against this years virus. However, they could guess wrong, or that years could be particularly strong. It appears that is what is happening this year. The virus used in the shot this year is not boosting immune systems enough, for a particularly strong virus cycling this year. That is why many who have gotten the shot are still coming down with it more then usual.

Is sad to see someone so young cut down in the prime of their life. RIP.


Sorry, meant the flu vaccine doesn't cause the flu.


I never meant I thought the vaccine caused the flu, however, it just seems these vaccines supplying antibodies from previous flu strains, could possibly be lowering immunity instead of increasing. Just my personal theory based on personal experience.


There is a possibility that is a little bit true. If interested look up "original antigenic sin".


You can't delete comments with personal opinions in them. Only those containing profanities. Guess the FNP editor doesn't get what "free speech" means.


The FNP moderator has an infamous reputation for deleting comments that in no way violate their rules to posting, personal opinions be damned.


No kidding. Two of your comments were deleted from our discussion of Hanlon's Razor the other day even though they were entirely innocuous. Indeed, one of them could have been construed as you defending the FNP against the suggestion of stupidity.


There is no free speech issue here. The notions of free speech apply to government restrictions on speech. You do not have a constitutional right to speech while on other people's private property.


Its a public newspaper. Try not to take your job too seriously.


No, no, no. It is a privately owned newspaper. You don't really want government to force you to let complete strangers into your living room to share their opinions with you, do you?

Not sure what my job has to do with this. You don't think I'm with the FNP, do you?


Privately owned, publicly published. If you do not want to hear another person's opinion on here, then the comment feed would not exist.


You are really having trouble understanding the concepts of 1) private property and 2) free speech.

The FNP owns this website. This website is private property. As such, they can invite you to make comments if they wish and delete your comments if they wish for any reason they want. MIf you will refer to the first amendment of the constitution (it is the part that deals with free speech; try reading it), you'll notice that it did not require private citizens or companies to provide free speech to anyone who happens to show up.

The comment feed exists, I imagine, because the FNP is for-profit and can sell advertising for higher rates with more viewers. Or do you not understand capitalism either?

I wish you liberal progressives would learn something -- anything -- about how the world works.


Wow you're so smart and on top of things, spending Saturday night arguing on the FNP website. LOL. Goodnight.


Your inability to defend your argument is duly noted.

Goodbye, brave Sir Robin. (Minstrels singing "He's chickening out and running away.")


I'm not male genius, and I wasn't born in 86 kiddo. So funny the things you kids assume these days.


The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to prevent. Something to consider.


I've considered it and I'm not going to get the 1976 vaccine for the swine flu variant of that year. I do recommend the flu shot this year though.


If you want the truth about the 1976 swine flu vaccine check here. It is a great story for our times. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/05-1007_article


Very sad. She was always very pleasant behind the bar. Condolences to her friends and family.







RIP Colleen. Your family and friends will be in our thoughts and prayers.

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Another anti-vaxer. You have no idea what you are talking about. Please look up flu vaccine on the FDA website. The vaccine CANNOT cause the flu.


Eight comments deleted? Good Lord, what kind of garbage have insensitive trolls been writing about someone who has died from the flu?


The original article focused mainly on the flu, rather than the tragic death. My comments that flu deaths are not as rare as the article made them out to be were not well received. I apologized. I did not troll.


This makes me think/agree.
The CDC doesn’t precisely count adult flu deaths, in no small part because it just kills so many. Every year, flu kills 12,000 to 56,000 people and sends as many as 700,000 to the hospital.


There wasn't any garbage at all. threecents expressed some surprise at the prominence of the story on the FNP website -- it was "Breaking News" yesterday with a red banner across the screen -- given that flu deaths are fairly common. In my opinion, some of the reactions to that comment were overblown.


Very kind of you PR. I am sometimes a little tone deaf, and I was horrified by the reactions.


Meh, I wasn't surprised by the reactions. I've noticed that a lot of commenters don't read for comprehension, make a lot of unwarranted assumptions, and don't reason very well.

I thought your comment was on the mark. It wasn't "Breaking News". No one disputed that. Their reactions were all about stuff you did not actually say. I get the same sort of illogical responses all too often.


I'm sure that what threecents wrote is correct, public. Just as I'm sure that, by my initial comment, you understand that what I meant was that this is an article about someone passing away, and that comments which have been deleted must have been particularly offensive in spite of the FNP's reputation for deleting comments which do not violate their rules.


So, public, were all of the comments which were deleted posted by threecents?


No just two of mine plus some of the ones in response to mine. A few of those are still up.


CD, what three wrote above is correct.


Sad news.


This is so sad. Otherwise healthy people in their prime are dying from flu this year, and they say the vaccine is only about 30% effective. Prayers for the family.

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i heart frederick

They don’t die in Frederick. I promise you each flu death is reported in the town where the victim lived. This was a much loved young woman. Go troll elsewhere.

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Jeez three, that's cold. She was well known downtown. She may also be the first flu-related death in the area, so that IS newsworthy.

Comment deleted.

My point is that I think the flu is underestimated, even by many doctors. According to the CDC, about 34 million Americans got the flu in 2014-15, including about 710,000 people who were hospitalized and about 56,000 who died.


It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine itself and you may protect yourself and others.

Comment deleted.

It's news because she was 41 years old and healthy; her death was very atypical, even during a bad flu season. She was also extremely well known in the community. and the FNP is a community newspaper.


RIP sweet angel. She was truly one of the best.




I am so sorry for her family, friends and co-workers. This flu is nothing to mess with!


Just tragic

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