WISE COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — A 41-year-old father of six in Wise County is believed to be the 21st flu-related death in North Texas.

Chris Waskom, a ministry leader at the Open Range Cowboy Church in Krum, passed away on New Year’s Eve. Fellow pastor Earl Bengston says the medical examiner confirmed that Waskom died with the swine flu and pneumonia.

Waskom and his wife did not receive flu shots, instead spending the available money on flu shots for their six children.

“It’s my understanding that he had just started his own business,” said Bengston. “They didn’t have insurance. They chose to have all the kids get their flu shots and didn’t get them themselves.”

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Bengston says that Waskom was otherwise a very healthy man who had no prior health issues.

Now, the family and congregation is dealing with the loss of a father who had a great calling to work in the ministry, according to Bengston.

“We’re all really struggling. There’s no real answer when something like this happens so suddenly to someone like this. It’s hard for us to understand. We just have to trust the Lord that everything is going to be okay.”

Waskom, who was working with kids in the ‘arena’ ministry, was following in the footsteps of his father, who was also a minister.

“God just had a calling on him to work with our young people,” said Bengston.

At least 20 other flu deaths have been reported across North Texas.  Denton County health department reported their first two flu-associated deaths on Monday, while Dallas County officials confirm 17 flu related deaths.

In total, there have been more than 1,800 confirmed flu cases reported from North Texas hospitals.

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