RCSD remembers beloved chaplain who died from complications of COVID-19

Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 11:20 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is remembering a beloved chaplain who died Sunday from complications of COVID-19.

Terry Barrett, 69, spent more than four decades with the department as a deputy, investigator, and chaplain.

Sheriff Leon Lott says Barrett dedicated his life to service, starting his career as an Army soldier, before becoming a Richland County Sheriff’s deputy in 1976.

“Our careers went up together,” said Lott. “We were uniform deputies together, we were investigators together, and he was just a good guy.”

Barrett worked his way up the ranks to Lieutenant in Investigations. Deputy Chief Jim Stewart says he was great at his job and recalls working a murder case where he couldn’t get the suspect to confess.

“Terry volunteered to step in and give it a try, and he talked with him,” Stewart explained. “He was in the office, just the two of them, and I don’t know what really went on, but he prayed for him and got him to tell us his version of what happened.”

That dedication to faith called Barrett to retire from RCSD in 2012 to become a Methodist minister.

“He was always positive, and we kind of always knew he was going to be a preacher one day,” said Lott.

In 2015, Barrett walked back through the department doors to serve as a chaplain.

“He had been a deputy,” Sheriff Lott explained. “He had ridden the midnight shift, and he had answered calls. He could relate to that, and then becoming a minister, you combine those two, and it made him the perfect person.”

Barrett counseled young deputies and community members during their time of need.

“He went to the hospital many times and held someone’s hand and prayed for them, and we weren’t able to do that,” said Lott. “That kind of adds a little more sadness to this. We prayed for him, but we weren’t there, and that hurts a little bit more.”

While COVID-19 took Barrett’s life too soon, this department will never forget the joy his bright smile brought to so many.

“The one thing about this virus is, you don’t know,” Lott noted. “It’s like playing Russian roulette. You don’t know who it’s going to impact and how it’s going to impact them. Sadly, it took his life. So, l want people to understand this virus is real. Wear your mask, social distance, get the shot, I mean do everything you can to protect yourself and your family.”

Barrett is the department’s first line-of-duty death due to COVID-19. Lott says he will be given a full law enforcement funeral. He also plans to name the department’s chaplain of the year award in Barrett’s honor.

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