Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy dies after contracting COVID-19

Published 9:24 pm Sunday, October 10, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan Sheriff’s Office Master Deputy William “Billy” Marsh died Sunday at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte after a battle with COVID-19.

Marsh, 40, was sworn in with the Sheriff’s Office in 2012 as a reserve deputy while also working full-time at the Cleveland Police Department. Marsh became a full-time deputy with the Sheriff’s Office in 2015 and continued to work part-time for the Cleveland department.

He was first hospitalized for COVID-19 on Sept. 30. 

In a statement, Maj. John Sifford said Marsh was a “respected, dependable and hardworking deputy.” The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office stationed Marsh’s patrol vehicle outside of the courthouse Monday with a thin blue line flag, flowers and other mementos on it.

Marsh lived in the Cleveland area and is survived by wife Nicole and 2-year-old daughter Kennedy. Marsh’s parents are Ronald Edward and Bonnie Brown Marsh.

He graduated from North Rowan High School in 1999 and went onto finish basic law enforcement training in 2001. He started his career with the China Grove Police Department.

Funeral services are under the direction of Powles Staton Funeral Home. The family will greet friends and relatives Wednesday at the funeral home in Rockwell. The funeral services will be 2 p.m. Thursday in Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.

COVID-19 was the leading cause of line-of-duty law enforcement deaths in the first six months of 2021, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum. There were 71 officers deaths due to the virus in the first half of the year, causing the number of line-of-duty deaths to increase 10%.

The pandemic’s deadly impact has been felt by local law enforcement, too. Salisbury Police Officer Shane Karriker succumbed to COVID-19 in June. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office held a fundraiser last month to support Deputy Brian Benfield, who spent over a month hospitalized with the virus before being released

Rowan County’s overall COVID-19 death total reached 426 on Monday. Marsh’s death will make at least 427 deaths among Rowan County residents. Only six of North Carolina’s 100 counties have a higher death tally since the pandemic started. With local tests returning positive 9.4% of the time the previous two weeks, the county is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have substantial community spread.