Family, friends to honor local teen who died due to COVID-19

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Friends and family of Johnny Sims Waters will pay tribute to the 17-year-old Saturday. The Phillip O. Berry Academy student died due to COVID-19 last week.

Funeral services for Waters will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Faith Church at 457 Wellingford Street. Friends and community members are invited to a balloon release at 4 p.m. at Phillip O. Berry Academy.

“His smile would light up a room,” his aunt Laquesha Wilkins said.

Waters was known for his smile and his sense of humor, according to his family. He was an aspiring mechanical engineer and planned to attend Winston-Salem State University. He enjoyed spending time at Camp Greene Park playing basketball and hanging out with his girlfriend.

“He was an all-around good kid,” his mother, Natasha Wilkins, said. “From birth, I never had a problem out of him.”

Laquesha and Natasha say Waters put everyone before himself, even expressing concern about his family, making sure they were OK as he was hospitalized in September. He had underlying health conditions, the family said.

Waters wasn’t vaccinated, and his family is now urging anyone still hesitant to get the shot and wear a mask. Natasha got her first shot while her son was hospitalized.

While COVID-19 deaths involving teens are rare, Laquesha and Natasha are urging parents to be vigilant.

“Parents, if your children have underlying health issues, don’t play with this,” Laquesha Wilkins said. “This is real.”

Laquesha and Natasha say while Waters may no longer be with them, his memory will live on.

“He is an awesome kid,” Laquesha said. “We speak in the present tense because we know his body is gone but his soul is still with us.”

Flowers can be sent to First Family Funeral & Cremation at 6429 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28214.

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