Pastor Fred Thomas, a beloved comedian and cast member of the popular Rickey Smiley Morning Show, known for his "Church in 60 Seconds" segment, has died following a two-week battle with the new coronavirus, his family announced.
Thomas, who founded the Word of Faith Church in McKinney, Texas, joined the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, led by fellow Christian comedian Rickey Smiley, in January.
His son, Au'mon Wyatt, announced his death on his Facebook page on Dec. 23.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of my father Pastor Fred Thomas. This was not our will or desire, but it is the will of God in which we accept. Please pray for my family and I as we go through this trying time of loss. All will be well and we will make it through this as he would have wanted us to,” he wrote.
Days before his death, the late pastor’s wife, Desiree Thomas, told WFAA that he taped an interview with Rickey Smiley on Dec. 9, shortly after he learned he had the virus. The following day, his condition deteriorated rapidly.
"He was really good and the next morning on the 10th, he started to take a bit of a decline," Desiree Thomas recalled.
His family rushed him to a local hospital where he was placed on a ventilator and they prayed for his recovery.
"We knew we couldn't do anything but pray. We couldn't go to the hospital or go sit with him. It pushed us to pray and seek God," Wyatt said as his mother noted how difficult it was to watch “the light of our family” go out.
"He is the comedian and the light of our family and this has completely devastated us," she said.
Smiley, who also noted that he too was struggling with Thomas’ death, shared on social media how difficult it was to have someone from his team die from the virus.
“It just feels depressing. Like today don’t even feel like two days before Christmas. It’s cloudy, it’s dark, it’s gloomy, it feels sad,” he said on Dec. 23.
“Fred is a wonderful teammate, fellow comedian that passed away. We all sad.”
He also took the opportunity to warn his audience to protect themselves from the virus even though the manner in which it appears to affect people seems so unpredictable.
“I just want to tell everybody to wear your mask and take your vitamins. Sometimes you can wear your mask and take your vitamins. You can wear your mask and do everything you can to be safe and still end up with coronavirus,” he said.
“Just you breathing the wrong pocket of air, it enters your lungs and changes your whole life if it don’t take it. It affects people in different ways. Some people die, it attacks the heart, people have lost limbs due to coronavirus. People have had it and don’t have it anymore, some of them have had it and gotten healthier because we have antibodies,” he said with a deep sigh. “It just feels like a sad, sad time …. This will be a year I’ll never forget.”