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'Covid didn't win' | Family honors legacy of husband, father who died after testing positive for COVID-19

James Dakins, 48, is described as a loving, caring, and outgoing husband and father who always had a smile on his face.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-area family is celebrating the life of a beloved husband and father who died after testing positive for Covid-19.

James Dakins’ family told WCNC Charlotte he was 48 years old with no underlying health conditions when he passed on Jan. 2.

His wife, Trisha Dakins, and daughter, Jessica Barber, described James as a loving, outgoing person who cared about others and always had a smile on his face.

He was a manager at Big Lots in Concord and worked there for 20 years. He was also a board member and co-chair for Esther’s Heart for Transformation Ministry.

"He didn't meet a stranger,” Trisha said. “He, this goofy grin on this picture is how you always saw him. He was always smiling. Even when he didn't feel good, he was laughing."

Trisha said James started to not feel good just before the holidays. His work asked him to get tested for Covid-19 on Dec. 16. She said he couldn’t find an appointment until Dec. 18 and was beginning to feel sick by then.

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By Dec. 21, Trisha said he was taken to the hospital and was having trouble breathing.

"Just went down like that,” she added. “I mean, that quick, no warning, no nothing."

Trisha said she and her sons also tested positive for Covid-19 during this time, but they only had mild symptoms with no taste and no smell. The virus was much worse for James.

"People need to take it seriously,” Trisha said. “I know it's scary, but I'd rather be safe than sorry."

James spent 13 days over Christmas and New Years' in the hospital. A nurse let him Facetime Trisha on New Year’s Day as things took a turn for the worse with James on a ventilator.

"She [the nurse] said, ‘He's going to blink. Tell your wife you love her and blink three times,’” Trisha said. “So, he blinked three times, and he mumbled love. And she told him not to talk because he had that in his mouth, and I guess that was my way of him telling me goodbye."

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By the next morning, Trisha said James was gone.

His family honored his wishes with a celebration of life service, not a funeral. His love of Christ coming through as six people were saved.

The family asked those attending his service to bring non-perishable food items to donate to Esther’s Heart for Transformation Ministry.

"He was taken too soon, so we're going to continue his legacy,” Trisha said, “and we're going to continue reaching people in his honor."

Though Covid-19 took a beloved husband and father, the family is not letting that dim the light of James Dakins’ smile.

"Covid didn't win,” said his daughter Jessica Barber.

"That's right, Covid didn't win,” Trisha added. “It took him, but it didn't win."