Rev. John Wilkins dies after battle with COVID-19

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Rev. John Wilkins, an internationally-known Memphis musician, has died after battling with COVID-19.

Wilkins’s family says he passed away Tuesday, October 6, due to complications from the coronavirus.

Wilkins was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April of this year. Wilkins was in the hospital for five weeks and was placed on a ventilator in the ICU.

WREG spoke with him and his family in June, after he was released from Baptist DeSoto Hospital.

“My dad had called me on April 4 and told me he wasn’t feeling well. I noticed in his voice it sounded like he wasn’t breathing well,” his daughter Joyce Jones said.

At the time of his release from the hospital, Wilkins’s family credited Baptist staff and prayer for his improving health.

“Have more faith than fear. That’s what brought us through this point,” Jones said. “The day they rolled him out of that hospital saying he was COVID-free. He could come home. That was the shouting spirit.”

Jones says his mental and physical health started to decline after he got out of the hospital.

“The symptoms of his breathing difficulties never left him. He weakened. He never got his appetite back,” Jones said.

Jones says he eventually had surgery on both of his legs and was placed on dialysis.

She says he would get depressed, especially at the thought of never being able to perform on stage again.

“I guess he felt like maybe he wasn’t going to be able to do that again,” Jones said. “That was his pride and joy — his music and us three girls. He was our hero.”

She says the family stayed by his side up until the very end. Now, she says they’re staying focused on keeping his legacy alive through his music.

“He left his talents and gifts behind, and we’re going to do our best to continue to shine for our father,” Jones said.

Wilkins was 76 when he died. His family says he died a few days shy of his 77th birthday.

The family says they will hold a funeral for Wilkins Saturday at Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church at 1098 South Wellington Street. The service will start at 1 p.m.

Jones says the church will only be able to hold 1,500 people in order to stay within social distancing guidelines.

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