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Photo contributed by Whitfield County government / Roger Crossen

This story was updated at 11:39 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, with Crossen's age.

Whitfield County Commissioner Roger Crossen has died after being hospitalized with COVID-19. He was 68. 

Crossen, the former director of the Whitfield County Parks and Recreation Department, was first elected as a commissioner in 2015.

Commission Chairwoman Lynn Laughter said she is heartbroken about Crossen's passing.

"He was one of the best commissioners I have worked with in my eight years on the board," Laughter said in a statement to the Times Free Press. "He was always prepared for every meeting. He will be sorely missed by all of us."

Following his time with Parks and Rec, Crossen had worked at Coahulla Creek High School.

Crossen had been hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 and was later admitted for intensive care, according to commissioners who spoke about his condition at a recent public meeting.

Fellow commissioner Barry Robbins had also recently tested positive for the coronavirus but had not shown any symptoms. He was quarantined and showing no symptoms.

Last week, Laughter urged her fellow commissioners to pass a mask mandate as COVID-19 cases soared in Whitfield County. A mandate was not passed, nor was a proposed resolution that would have recommended people wear masks in public.

Crossen — along with the three other commissioners — was not in favor of a mask mandate as of August.

"I will not take away any of your freedoms," Crossen at the meeting to loud applause from residents, according to the Daily Citizen-News.

Laughter said Tuesday the possibility of Crossen contracting the virus because he was around someone who wasn't wearing a mask and asymptomatic "makes me even more sad."

"We will never know for sure," she said. "I can't even get a recommendation passed to recommend people wear masks. That may have saved his life."

This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for updates.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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