Just over a month ago, Wes Depew was relaxing on a beach during a retreat with members of his church. “Loving my beach time especially when all the youth are at the pool with the other adults,” he wrote on Facebook on Oct. 13.
The youth minister of Dixie Hills Baptist Church in Bolivar, Tennessee, had no idea that in the weeks to come he would battle a COVID-19 infection then die at the age of 61 on Sunday. He would have been 62 on Dec. 16.
“Bro. Wes served as youth minister at Dixie from November 1, 2016 until he got sick October 15, 2020. He went to be with Jesus on November 15th,” his mourning church family said in a statement on their Facebook page Wednesday where they chronicled his tragic descent from health into sickness and death.
In addition to his work as a youth minister, Depew played the guitar on his church’s praise team every Sunday, led worship and “preached occasionally.”
He “drove the van for many senior adult outings, attended sports games of his youth & supported them in their accomplishments, loved making people laugh, was a substitute teacher for Hardeman County Schools, led a mission trip to Guatemala, and made sure the Coke machine was stocked up for Sundays. We are forever grateful for the time the Lord allowed him to be with us. He is singing, praising, & dancing in Heaven, reaping the rewards of a life that impacted so many for eternity,” the church explained.
“He was very gifted musically,” Ellen Cone, the children’s minister and church secretary told WREG about the late grandfather.
While COVID-19 forced many older adults across the country into living more cautiously during the coronavirus pandemic, Cone told WREG that in mid-October that Depew took young church members on their annual youth retreat and developed what he thought was just “a bad cold” when it was over.
“They came back on a Thursday and then that Thursday night he just felt like he had a bad cold,” Cone said. “Congestion and everything. Over the weekend, he knew it was probably COVID. So, he got tested over the weekend and it was.”
The church announced Depew’s diagnosis on social media and they began to pray.
Depew’s condition would only deteriorate after that and he was placed in the ICU as his church and family prayed even more intensely.
“We come praying for our dear Christian brother. We come praying for Wes. The biggest thing for us is just coming together in prayer,” Cone said noting that they prayed for Depew right up until he stopped breathing on Sunday.
“Our prayers through this was that God would get the glory. Whatever, if the Lord saw to heal Wes, on this side of heaven then wonderful. But if not, then we know the Lord had other plans,” Cone said.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force says the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee over the last month “has become deeper and unyielding,” citing Halloween and “related activities” as contributors.
As of Wednesday Nov. 18, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 325,201 COVID-19 cases including 4,048 deaths and 1,982 current hospitalizations. Some 279,931 cases were reported as inactive or recovered.