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Clergy member of Second Presbyterian Church dies from coronavirus

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 5:14 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Members of one of the largest churches in the Bluff City are mourning the loss of one of their own who died after a battle with COVID-19.

Second Presbyterian Church announced that associate pastor Tim Russell died Monday at Baptist.

The senior pastor at Second Presbyterian Church, George Robertson, says Russell was diagnosed with COVID-19 about a week and a half ago and put up a hard battle but things took a sudden turn for the worst.

Robertson said Russell died with heart complications.

Robertson said Russell’s wife, Kathe, wished to thank everyone who has sent her an outpouring of condolences.

“He was officially by job description, he was the middle adult’s pastor here at Second, but unofficially he was everybody’s pastor,” Robertson said in a live stream on the church’s website. “My brothers and sisters I’m very, I’m very, very sorry. I’m lost today without, without my chaplain and I know you feel the same way.”

Russell was known by many people across Memphis, in part because the membership at his church is so large.

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Even members of the Baptist medical team treating him for COVID-19 were members of the church.

Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Steve Threlkeld, called Russell a friend and pleaded with others to take COVID-19 seriously.

“It becomes increasingly personal for all of us who take care of these patients through events like this,” said Threlkeld. “I certainly hope people will continue to cooperate with the directives that we have. We don’t want it to be more personal for each of you.”

Dr. Joseph Caldwell, the dean of the Memphis College of Urban Theological Studies, says Pastor Russell played an instrumental part in the school, including serving as president.

“Tim was the type of person who was always giving back. He was always caring. He was always there to give advice and encouragement,” said Caldwell.

Robertson says Russell’s loved ones will hold a private service this week.

He said a public memorial will be held in the future once it becomes safe to hold large gatherings again.

The Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says like with many other cases they’re handling, they are still in the process of tracking down everyone Pastor Russell may have come into contact with.

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