Bernard Moss: Husband, father, grandfather, soldier, pastor, first Columbus COVID-19 death


For nearly two weeks, we have only known the first Muscogee County COVID-19 victim as an 85-year-old man who died March 29 at Piedmont Columbus Regional.

That man was Bernard Moss. And his widow, Claudett, one of his daughters, Valencia Jefferson, and one of his grandchildren, Connie Mayo, talked exclusively with News 3.

His family called Bernard Moss Big Daddy, The U.S. Army called him sergeant first class. He lived here in Columbus. He was a pastor. And almost two weeks ago he became the county’s first casualty in the fight against COVID-19.

“When you called him Big Daddy, his face just lit up the room,” Jefferson said. “Big Daddy.”

To view the complete interview with Bernard Moss’ family click the video above,

Moss and his wife, Claudett, were pastors at New Birth New Beginning Church in South Columbus.

He was a decorated soldier, serving one tour in Korea and two in Vietnam before retiring in 1975.

He and Claudett got married in 2011 and shepherded a blended family that includes 13 kids, 68 grandkids, 22 great grandkids and four great-great grandkids.

On Saturday March 14, Moss played nine holes at Oxbow Meadows Golf Course. He didn’t feel well and went to the doctor the following Tuesday.

“He didn’t really didn’t get sick until after then,” Claudett said. “He was sick, but not sick, sick.”

He had a 104 fever and was admitted that day to the Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown campus.

He was released on Saturday, March 21. He went back into the hospital the next day.

On Thursday, March 26, Moss was diagnosed with COVID-19. That was the last day Claudett talked to her husband.

She remembers that conversation well.

“Love you. Love you,” she said. “He had a deep voice. He said love you. We always said I was his mama and he was my daddy. I said, ‘Now, you do what they tell you to. You hear what your mama say.’ He said, ‘OK. Love you.’”

He died three days later.

The family has no idea how Moss contracted the virus. No one else in the family has tested positive.

In fact Cluadett and her husband knew what they knew about the virus through Google.

“I knew nothing about it,” Claudett said. “He had gone to his computer and pulled it up, all symptoms.”

Like many who have died, he had underlying health conditions, the primary one being heart disease.

The funeral service was done on Facebook. And Moss was buried at the Main Post Cemetery on Fort Benning.

Now, the family holds to memories and faith.

“We are getting through it as a Family. One of the things that he left is a legacy of Jesus,” his daughter said. “And that love and the Lord conquers all. And no matter how hard it gets and how hard it looks. His foundation was Jesus. And we know with God we can get through this. That is the message he has taught his kids, his grandkids and everybody around him.”

Claudett holds to that faith, as well.

“He always said, you don’t have a testimony until you pass the test,” she said. “And I pray that we pass the test and give God his glory and his honor. For he was a great man. I say, what a guy, what a guy.”

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