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Faces Of COVID: Sgt. Major Robert Strawberry Remembered As Devout, Charitable Father

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- From booking bell ringers to leading Bible study, the Salvation Army is remembering a staple for nearly two decades he served. Chaplin Sgt. Major Robert Strawberry died at the age of 79 from lung cancer and COVID-19 complications last month.

"If you ever wanted to find him on a Sunday, you knew where he was at," Ishaw Neuman, one of his sons, said.

From Genesis to Revelation, Robert Strawberry's sons will forever remember the way their father poured his time into studying the Bible.

"He was always trying to help the people at the bottom try to get back to the top," Jacob Epps, another son, said.

It started from his time serving in the Air Force in Vietnam to launching a restorative justice program at Malcom X College in Chicago.

Strawberry moved to Minneapolis where he planned the routes for holiday bell ringers and helped people in recovery find housing and jobs at the Salvation Army Harbor Lights.

"Give people who have messed up their second, third and fourth chances another chance. That was always his thing. You never run out of chances," Epps said.

Diagnosed with lung cancer last year, still wasn't enough to slow Strawberry down.

"Him and masks and gloves was constant," Neuman said.

While he worried about the pandemic, his sons say he still had work to do and people to help. Last month, after preaching on a Sunday, Strawberry complained he couldn't breathe.

"By afternoon we took him to the hospital. He just never recovered," Neuman said.

He died six days later at HCMC after testing positive for COVID-19. His sons want to remind everyone to take this pandemic seriously and to improve someone else, just like their father did each day.

There is a GoFundMe account that's been set up to help pay for funeral expenses.

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