Traveling musical minister from Gretna who died from COVID-19 remembered as 'a modern-day Apostle Paul'

Traveling musical minister from Gretna who died from COVID-19 remembered as 'a modern-day Apostle Paul'

From the COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from the region, state, nation and world: March 26 series
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DANVILLE — Her husband died, and she is stuck alone in a house in a strange city without the rest of her family.

Even though she tested negative, Jean Spradlin, of Gretna, is in quarantine in a large home in North Carolina for at least another week for concerns that she may spread COVID-19 because she was in close contact with her 66-year-old husband, Landon Spradlin, who had the virus.

Her husband of 35 years died early Wednesday morning, the family said, due to complications from COVID-19 and double pneumonia. He had been on a ventilator for more than a week at Concord, North Carolina, hospital Atrium Health Cabarrus.

They were in New Orleans when he started getting sick. On their way back to Gretna on March 17, his condition worsened to the point where he could hardly breathe. So Jean Spradlin took her husband to the hospital in Concord, where the test for COVID-19 came back positive the next day, she said.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that two people died on from “complications associated with the virus,” including a person in their 60s from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina.

The Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first fatality associated with COVID-19 in a resident of the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District. The person was receiving care at an out-of-state hospital.

“We express our sincere condolences to this person’s family,” Scott Spillmann, director of the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District, wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19.”

Family and friends will remember Landon Spradlin as a kind man, a gifted musician, and “not just a normal minister” who was well known and loved by many.

“My father was a very big bunch of people loving, Jesus loving dynamite in a small package,” said Judah Strickland, one of Spradlin’s five children.

Spradlin was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016, has led a number of non-traditional churches, including one in the 1990s that was located between two strip clubs in New Orleans and another for bikers in Texas that met at a bar. Jesse Spradlin, the couples’ daughter, described him as “a modern-day Apostle Paul” — the traveling evangelist who wrote half of the New Testament.

“He’s not just a normal minister,” she said.

Patrick McGrath, who attended a church the Spradlins started in Gretna for several years and knew the family well, said one of his favorite memories with Landon Spradlin was when he went on a trip to New Orleans with him and several other people.

“He just had a demeanor about him where he could walk up and talk to you like he was your best friend,” he said.

“He had to be the only person that made me feel like Jesus was actually real,” McGrath’s wife, Kirsten John, said. “He was a rare gem.”

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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