ARLINGTON, Texas - Family and friends came together on Thursday to remember an Arlington pastor and the first person in Tarrant County to die of West Nile virus this summer.
Reverend Richard Lord was a beloved Arlington pastor. Now, his family wants him to be more than a number.
Richard was founded Rush Creek Christian Church on a pig farm in 1978. And even though he was retired, he still taught Sunday school there. His wife is shocked that one mosquito bite could change so much.
At 82 years old, the reverend was a picture of good health. He played golf six days a week, taught Sunday school and kept up with 11 grandchildren.
“They have got to know this happened to the strongest and healthiest and mightiest among us can die of this stuff,” his wife Janice Lord said.
She could not believe it when her husband fell ill on July 4. The family later learned Lord was bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus.
“We think we nailed down the day he was not playing golf,” Janice said. “It showed first in his system on the fourth of July. He died 12 days later. It was a horrendous period of suffering.”
The reverend built a now 500 member congregation from the ground up. He was a believer that no task was too small. Church leaders say it was common to see him out gardening or taking out the trash at church.
Richard’s family hopes he is remembered for his love for people.
“I think the thing about him was his kindness, gentleness, solid rock under pinning,” Janice said.
Two people died in Tarrant County after contracting West Nile virus in 2016. Less than one percent of people who contract the virus will develop inflammation of the brain, which is what happened to the reverend.