Beloved pastor from Esko dies from COVID

Updated: October 27, 2020 06:26 PM

In his 58 years, Pastor Jeff Walther touched so many lives. He was there for celebrations and the beginning of life. And also to comfort, at the end.

Now, his parishioners and loved ones are grieving his loss. He died on Sunday from COVID-19.

"My dad was a light in our community, and a light in our family. He was and will forever be, a light in the darkness," shared his daughter, Hannah Kovac.

She took us back to when it all started in September. "He was healthy. He had no underlying health conditions. I thought, OK, dad is sick. But he'll take care of himself, and he'll get better."

But things got much worse. "The fever was relentless. And he got that cough."

At the end of September, he was admitted to the hospital. He spent weeks on a ventilator. "The last thing I asked him, was what do you want me to do? And he said, just keep praying, and keep the faith," Kovac shared.

So many prayed. He even got the best modern medicine had to offer. "He received the plasma with the COVID antibodies. He got Remdesivir. He received absolutely wonderful care there," she added.

But then, on Sunday, the same day his flock worshipped together, he passed away. "We were able to be there with him, and that was beautiful. We are just happy he's not suffering anymore," Kovac said.

The family is so grateful for all the support. "We're absolutely humbled by the way he impacted so many lives in such a unique way," Kovac said. Pastor Jeff had a wife, Christina, who also contracted the virus. And they also have a son, Alex.

They now hope others will take the disease more seriously, if they didn't before. "We want something good to come out of this," Kovac said.

A drive-thru visitation is set for Friday, from 3-6pm, at St. Matthew's. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, October 31st at 11:00am. The service will be for immediate family only, but the family invites friends, extended family and community to join in via live stream on the St. Matthews Lutheran Church facebook page, or by parking in the St. Matthews parking lot and tuning in to 99.5 FM. Arrangements entrusted to Atkins Northland Funeral Home, Cloquet,

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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