Family believes Chicago Bishop Robert Skinner died of coronavirus

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The family of popular Chicago Bishop Robert Skinner, Jr. believes the religious leader died from COVID-19.

They're waiting for the official results, but say the 63-year-old had all the symptoms before he passed away. Two other family members have already tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Bishop Robert Skinner, Jr. was not feeling well for about a week.

"Usually, if he caught a cold or anything, he would pray his way through," said his sister, Trender Skinner. "It would be OK, he would bounce back and continue in the pulpit."

For the first time ever, the bishop of the Greater Pleasant Valley Church missed Sunday service.

"He asked someone else to preach because he got short-winded," Trender Skinner said.

She said her brother was home with flu-like symptoms when she spoke to him over FaceTime.

"I called back and looked at him again and said, 'Nope, I'm calling 9-1-1. They are on their way,'" Trender Skinner said.

But she said it was too late.

The South Side bishop will be remembered for his big heart and beautiful voice.

"He was so amazing. His voice would hit a high range and then go low to bass," the bishop's sister said.

Skinner took over the church for his late father and welcomed all with open arms.

"He could preach. The neighborhood changed and people started to join the church. He would give out food and clothing, sometimes they would come in and he would minister to them," Trender Skinner said.

The bishop has seven children.

"He was not ready to leave. He was not ready to die," Trender Skinner said. "He thought it was just a simple cold."

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released the cause of death.

"I have another brother in the hospital, and my brother that just passed, his son is in the hospital," Trender Skinner said.

Grieving their loss, the Skinner family is reminding others to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"I am begging you. Check on your loved ones. It can be serious," the bishop's sister said.

The medical examiner's office will release Skinner's official cause of death in the coming days.
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