Pastor remembers man who died near church during freeze as ‘good-spirited, kind’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police say they’re investigating three deaths possibly due to the cold weather. One of those was a man who frequented a local church for shelter.

James Perry was found dead over the weekend near First Congregational Church on South Cooper Street on Saturday. Police said they are investigating whether or not the frigid temperatures led to his death.

The church’s pastor said he died from exposure to the cold.

“It’s so tragic and such a sad story,” Rev. Cheryl Cornish said.“Our heart goes out to his family and all of his friends, and we’re certainly feeling his loss as well.”

She said James would often get food through their lunch program and even worship with them from time to time.

“James Perry was a man known for his sense of humor. People were always glad to see him enter the room,” Cornish said. “The volunteers who worked with him knew him as somebody who was always amiable, good-spirited, kind.”

Doctors say you’re at the greatest risk for hypothermia when temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Some parts of the Mid-South got down to the single digits last week.

“The weather that we had this past week, nobody in Memphis was prepared for that,” said Dr. Twyla Twillie, medical director of Christ Community Outreach. “Our community is really fortunate that people took the time to open warming centers, some of the shelters raised their population.”

The family of James Perry has set up a Gofundme page to help with his burial.

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