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Driver who encouraged masks on his bus dies of COVID-19

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 07:58:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dozens gathered in Richmond’s Southside Thursday evening to remember the life of 49-year-old John Thrower.

Thrower had been a GRTC bus driver for the last five years.

“Operator, friend, guider, leader, and one with such an effectiveness smile that worked hard and diligently," community activist Charles Willis said.

Thrower died September 23 from COVID-19 complications, after experiencing symptoms on August 15.

Friends, coworkers, and former employees shared memories at a Thursday vigil.

Some highlighted how Thrower tried to encourage riders to wear a mask.

“He put his mask on, showing the mask and showing the bus, and he put it on our Facebook employee network, and he said, 'could we do this?' And I said yes, we can," a GRTC employee said at the vigil. "He was always thinking, he always cared about his family and his family.”

One of Thrower's son’s also shared words Thursday.

"I knew he knew a lot of people, but I didn’t know he had all this love in return," his son said.

Many in the community said they would never forget John and hoped his story would encourage others to take the virus seriously.

"Just take it seriously guys. Do what you’re supposed to do to keep yourself safe, to keep your family safe. Because we don’t want this to happen again," his wife Tracey Thrower said.

GRTC said they are honoring John over the next few days with messages on all their buses. They are also looking at ways to honor him more in the future.

John's funeral will be on Monday.