‘HOOSIERS WE’VE LOST’: Pastor, day care owner described as ‘true servant of God’

Editor’s note: This is one of a continuing online series of profiles of the more than 12,000 Hoosiers who have died from COVID-19. The stories are from 12 Indiana newspapers, including The Republic, who collaborated to create the collection to highlight the tremendous loss that the pandemic has created. The series appears daily at therepublic.com.

Name: Stephan Sherrod

City/Town: Hammond

Age: 53

Died: Dec. 24

Stephan Sherrod’s life’s work was serving Northwest Indiana children and their families.

The longtime owner of a Hammond day care with four locations is remembered as a caring father figure who had a gift for watching over children and went out of his way to help others.

On Christmas Eve, Sherrod died from COVID-19 at the age of 53.

Sherrod ran Secrets Loving Care for more than 25 years, including three different day-care sites for children and one adult day-care site for seniors.

The Hammond High School graduate also served as an assistant pastor and minister of music at Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church in Hammond.

“He was a great person to work with,” Secrets Loving Care administrator Ternessa Burts said. “He had such a love for kids. He took them to church and summer camp. He loved teaching them music, to play piano and the keyboard.”

Sherrod enjoyed taking children out to eat and to go bowling, one of his favorite pastimes, Burts said.

“For young men with no father especially, he was a real father figure,” Burts said. “He always had an encouraging word and always challenged the kids to get to their studies.”

She remembered him as a humble man and talented musician with a fun-loving personality.

“He was more than a boss,” she said. “He was always there when you needed to talk or needed some advice. He would help you feel better. He would help people with anything at all. He was a real good guy.”

His goddaughter, Kristina Riddle, said Sherrod was a well-known and loved figure in Hammond whose service assisted many parents.

“He ran a 24-hour service that had kids on site all day long whether the parents worked 9 to 5 or 5 to 1,” she said. “He helped so many people, including so many single working parents.”

He was a caring, supportive man, Riddle said. She recalled how at his funeral at Family Christian Center in Munster people were asked to stand if he had ever given them encouragement.

“The entire room stood,” she said. “It was such a touching moment. He touched so many different people’s lives. He was a man after God. It’s such a terrible loss.”

Sherrod was a humble man who was funny with a dry sarcasm, Riddle said. She remembered him as a reserved and extremely resourceful man with a calm demeanor and understanding nature.

“He was someone who loved God and tried to help as many people as he could,” she said. “He was truly a servant. He was a wonderful man who served the community.”

— Contributed by The Times of Northwest Indiana