LARGO, Fla. -- The Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM) is mourning the loss of one its own.
According to AR-MEDCOM, Master Sgt. Brian Tolliver died from complications related to COVID-19 on Monday, August 17 in Largo.
Tolliver tested positive for coronavirus on July 10 and was admitted to Largo Medical Center the next day, according to officials. He remained at the hospital until the time of his death.
Officials with AR-MEDCOM says he served in the U.S. Army for 25 years, 13 with the Army Reserve. In his most recent assignment, Tolliver served as the command paralegal for the Army Reserve Medical Command in Pinellas Park.
"We feel a tremendous loss in our military family with the passing of Master Sgt. Tolliver,” said Maj. Gen. Jonathan Woodson, the commander of AR-MEDCOM in a press release. “COVID-19 has taken a dedicated Soldier from our formation, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Colleagues remembered him as a great soldier and person. Their unit was a close one.
"This was a tremendous human being that died too young and that you hear a lot about okay the Army that’s America’s best, the military, that’s America’s best, in this case it was," said Lt. Col. T. Scott Randall, Tolliver's immediate supervisor.
They described him as caring and someone who made a huge difference.
"It’s certainly not hyperbole to say he’s certainly one of the best soldiers I’ve ever served with in my 23 years," said Randall.
"I called him the gentle giant. Because the thing about it, he was small in statue but when he spoke it hold volumes," said his peer and friend, Master Sgt. Paul Cox. "And people listened when he spoke. The thing about it he never said an ill word about anyone."
They described his friend's strong Christian faith, love for his family and coworkers and leadership.
A month before his illness, he appeared in a video for suicide awareness.
"The Army is a team, a powerful team. Let's face those challenges together," Master Sgt. Tolliver said in the video.
His colleagues also remembered his impact on others.
"Master Sgt. paved the way for other reserve active duty soldiers. He was one of the first to teach a master leader course so that really paved the way and gave more opportunities to reserve soldiers in the future," said Staff Sgt. Adria Stephens, who was supervised by Tolliver.
She described him as one of the best leaders she'd had.
"I think it’s important to know the severity of COVID. Not even a month before he was in the hospital we were outside and he was doing one arm pull-ups and we were ruck marching at least every week. So I think it’s important to know that although he was healthy COVID 19 still impacted him," she said.
"Regardless of their political views or whatever ideas that they have about this, this COVID pandemic, just take it serious. You know, protect yourself, protect others, because God has taken a true angel away from us and I’m sure that God had better plans for him," said friend LaHarold Woodhouse.
Woodhouse says he and Tolliver were close friends for more than 30 years.
"He just instilled whatever he had into everybody he came across to try to leave them with as positive of an attitude as he possibly could," said Woodhouse.
Woodhouse says the 46-year-old from Memphis had a heart of gold.
"Brian was just -- no matter how you felt or what situation you were going through -- he was that type of guy that always had a smile on his face," said Woodhouse. "You could just look at him and he would make you laugh regardless of how you may have felt or what you were going through at the time."
He said Tolliver was a family man, loved his kids, was someone other soldiers could emulate and always had a smile. He also helped others through his real estate property.
"He had renters living in the house without paying rent for years because he was just trying to do the best and help those who were in need," said Woodhouse.
Now, he asks others to live life like Brian.
"Just live life to the fullest, do the best you can and just try to make as a positive impact as you can on everybody that you run across," Woodhouse said.
Tolliver is survived by his three children, all of whom live in Kentucky.