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N.C. pastor remembered for broad impact in community

Pastor Kevin Combs and his wife, Tracie. Submitted photo

VILAS, N.C. – Members of Cove Creek Baptist Church and the broader community in and around the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Boone are mourning the death of pastor Kevin Combs, who died in a heavy equipment accident on Monday, Feb. 26.

Combs, who was a bivocational pastor and owned a land grading business, was working to clear a home site when the skid steer he was operating lost traction and fell down a steep embankment. Combs was fatally injured in the fall. He was 54.

Combs had served as pastor at Cove Creek Baptist for five years, which is near the community where he grew up. News of his death sent shock and sadness through the local community, which knew him as a kind, compassionate and generous man who was a friend to everyone.

“He was well-loved and well-thought-of,” said Wesley Smith, associational mission strategist for the Three Forks Baptist Association based in Boone. “The community knew that he loved them and was available to them. Kevin had a wider impact than just the community of Cove Creek.”

Cove Creek is one of the 31 churches affiliated with the Three Forks Association, which serves the region of North Carolina known as the High Country. 

Smith said Combs was always among the first to open and click on a weekly prayer list that is distributed to pastors in the association by email. 

“He was a hard worker, he loved his family, he loved the church and he loved Jesus,” Smith said. “Kevin had been radically saved and changed, and he knew that the Gospel was real because he had experienced it.”

Combs trusted Christ and felt called to ministry later in life. He attended Fruitland Baptist Bible College, where he earned an associate degree.

At Fruitland, Combs met Glenn Davis, who, like Combs, was called to ministry later in life. Davis and Combs had grown up in the same area, but the two had never met. Davis described meeting Combs as providential and considers him a friend and mentor in the ministry.

“I was 56 years old at the time, and I really felt like God had sent him before me to be at school to be a shining light to help me through my studies,” Davis said. “He was a true brother, and always there for me.”

The two remained friends and encouragers in the ministry since the day they met at Fruitland.

“He was a godly man who loved his family dearly,” said Davis, who recently accepted the pastorate at Hopewell Community Church in Boone. “When Kevin and I would talk on the phone, he was never more happy to discuss his family and share a salvation story that would happen at his church or out on the job site. He wanted other folks to have the same new life that he had.”

Combs also served as a mentor in the ministry to his uncle, Steve Combs. Kevin baptized his uncle and helped Steve process his own call into the ministry.

“Kevin was not only my nephew, he was my mentor,” Steve Combs said. “He helped me get licensed to preach and has helped me get started in ministry. He was an inspiration to me and others up here. He always had a smile on his face and never met a stranger. He was the salt of the earth, and his light was always shining.”

Friends and family said Kevin Combs had a heart for people who struggled with addiction and substance abuse issues. Before God saved him, Kevin struggled with similar challenges.

“He wanted to help other folks come out of the darkness and into the light,” Steve Combs said. “He would share with them what Jesus had done for him, and tell them how they could experience an abundant life in Christ.”

Kevin Combs was a frequent volunteer at the Hebron Colony, a local Christ-centered, residential addiction recovery ministry. Don Holder, Hebron Colony’s executive director, said Combs would regularly greet and welcome men who were entering the program.

“He was one of the faces that greeted the new men,” Holder said. “He welcomed them and was a great ambassador for men coming into the program.”

As men graduated from the program, Combs would also purchase Bibles with their names imprinted on them and present them to the graduates. He did this at his own expense without anyone knowing, Combs’ wife, Tracie, said.

In the days since her husband’s passing, Tracie Combs said numerous people have shared stories about how Kevin had helped them with various things in their lives.

“There were things he did for people that we had no clue about,” Tracie Combs said. “We’ve been married for 34 years, and I’m learning things that I didn’t even know. It makes me very proud to call him my husband.”

One of the Combs’ married adult daughters, Colby Hamby, said she is also just beginning to comprehend the impact her father had on so many lives.

“Hearing stories about him has been eye-opening,” Hamby said. “I didn’t really know the extent of the impact that Dad had made in the community. I just didn’t realize and understand the kind of man he was outside of our family.”

Funeral services for Combs are scheduled for Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m. at Cove Creek Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from noon to 2 p.m. prior to the service at the church. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory in Boone is serving the family.

Kevin Combs’ obituary is available on the funeral home’s website.