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Community mourns COVID-19 death of Gaston County man

Virgil Sutton worked at Daimler Trucks and was an active member at Venture Church.

DALLAS, N.C. — Venture Church announced the death of a Gaston County parishioner on Sunday following his diagnosis of COVID-19

Virgil Sutton died at 6:25 p.m. at CaroMont Regional Medical Center. He was in his mid-50s.

Sutton and his wife, Donna, started Venture Church's addiction recovery ministry, which, according to Pastor Austin Rammell, helped many recovering addicts.

Pastor Rammell said Sutton had been addicted to crack cocaine, which almost destroyed his marriage more than 20 years ago.

"Donna had tried all the tough love measures. She had done everything she knew to do," Pastor Rammell said. "She finally had one [card in her deck] left, and that was their marriage."

He continued, "Virgil understood, 'If I don't stop smoking crack, my marriage is going to be gone.'"

Pastor Rammell said Sutton turned to his faith, which kept him clean for the rest of his life. He used his journey to inspire other recovering addicts.

"My phone and email is blowing up from people who just want to [know], 'How can I express my gratitude to them?'" he said.

Sutton's wife and kids couldn't be by his bedside when he died as CaroMont Regional Medical Center restricted visitors due to the coronavirus.

The family's last day of precautionary quarantine was the following day.

"It's just amazing the strength they have had through this in the middle of their grief and their pain," Pastor Rammell said. "They've got this incredible testimony of their faith."

RELATED: Gaston County family relies on faith as loved one battles COVID-19

Sutton worked at Daimler Trucks' Gastonia plant, and he was an active member of United Auto Workers Local 5286.

On Sunday, Scott McAllister, UAW Local 5286 President, wrote on Facebook, "I not only lost one of my childhood friends, but a UAW Local 5286 Brother. Please Keep Virgil Sutton family and friends in your prayers! Rest in peace my brother, you will be so missed by so many."

The family will not be holding a funeral service, but they plan to hold a praise and worship service following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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