Don Crider Sr.

A Morristown Police Department chaplain has died, reportedly due to the coronavirus.

The Rev. Don Crider Sr. died Wednesday morning.

Last week, the Law Enforcement Chaplains of the Lakeway Area requested prayers for the Rev. Don Crider Sr., saying he had fallen ill due to COVID-19.

“The city mourns the loss of Chaplain Don Crider who passed away today,” the MPD said in an official statement. “Don, whose call sign was Chaplain 5, was a devoted servant to the community for almost 20 years with the Morristown Police Department.  He received his police chaplain certification through the International Conference of Police Chaplains.  Chaplain Crider was very dedicated to the officers of the MPD and their families.  He rode alongside the officers, participated in devotion services and even performed wedding ceremonies during his time with us.” 

MPD Chief Roger Overholt said Crider will be missed.

“Don’s family is in our thoughts and prayers,” Overholt said. “His presence at the department and the service that he provided will be greatly missed.  Don was a comforting presence within our ranks and was always ready to give encouragement to everyone.  He truly had the heart of a servant.”

Crider’s sister-in-law had died in Morristown in March and Crider and another family member had accompanied the body back to Maryland, according to members of the Hamblen County coronavirus Task Force.

Both Crider and the other family member, who is reportedly from Hawkins County, subsequently fell ill. Test results later confirmed that Crider’s sister-in-law had succumbed to the virus.

The Chaplains’ group also released a statement, mourning the loss of Crider.

“Our community lost a great servant today. Don Crider - pastor, evangelist, and chaplain - passed away from COVID-19, leaving behind a grieving family and numerous friends. We will remember him for his fervent Christian testimony, his love for people, his winsome laughter, and a heart devoted to the officers of the Morristown Police Department,” the group said in a statement.

“Very saddened to learn of the Rev. Crider’s passing,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said. “Don and Thelma and their family and their church families through the years has made a very positive impact on the community and his service through the police department’s chaplains was an example of his servant’s heart.”

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain expressed “heartfelt sorrow” for Crider’s friends, family and co-workers.

“He was a well-respected clergy-man who served the community well,” he said. “My thoughts are with his family.”

Crider’s death comes as Hamblen County’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has remained at four. However, Task Force officials agree the numbers aren’t definitive as it is unclear whether that number includes Crider’s case. And, officials noted, that as of Tuesday afternoon, the state had not reported a COVID-related death in the county, despite Crider’s sister-in-law dying in Hamblen County of the virus two weeks earlier.  

Task Force members said the results of the sister-in-law’s test results only came back earlier this week and, because she was a resident of Maryland, her death was counted there. In addition, the other family member, as a resident of Hawkins County, will be counted as part of that county’s official tally.

Task Force member David Purkey said last week the state’s number of reported tests was lagging behind the number that of tests that have actually been taken in the county.

Chesney said it appears local efforts to social distance and shut large events down appears to be helping.

“I think our response is keeping things better than they would be otherwise,” he said.

Brittain added that though the state’s projections are improving, it is not time for the community to relax.

“We’ve got to, as a community, pay attention to our exposure to the virus. It’s too important to our families and our community and our future really, both personally and economically, that we all stay vigilant,” Brittain said, adding he encourages those who must go out to wear masks, even cloth ones which can help a little.