GREENVILLE — One of the chief architects behind a takeover of the Greenville County Republican Party that pledged support to former President Donald Trump has succumbed to COVID-19.
Pressley Stutts Jr., who three weeks ago was admitted to an Upstate hospital emergency wing and regularly posted on Facebook updates about his deteriorating condition, died Aug. 19, according to a morning post on his professional page.
Since mid-July, Stutts and his wife, Patty, have struggled with the health issues caused by the coronavirus that surged again this summer in the form of the highly contagious delta variant.
"On behalf of Pressley's family, and at Patty's specific request, we would please request privacy for the family at the very difficult time," the Aug. 19 post read. "We will provide further updates as they develop."
Throughout his prolifically self-documented treatment, the 64-year-old U.S. Navy retiree remained steadfast in his opposition of requiring masks to mitigate spread and maintained vaccination should be a personal choice.
After sharing hope his condition would improve, Stutts posted for the final time on Aug. 13, when he announced he would be put on a ventilator.
"This is my OWN decision," he said. "I trust God to keep me. I ask you to trust Him, too."
Shortly before Stutts was hospitalized, the leadership of the Greenville County GOP, which was at odds with the MAGA slate of competing leadership, announced their abrupt resignations.
In a letter to South Carolina GOP headquarters July 8 obtained by The Post and Courier, Chairwoman Jennifer Black, 1st Vice Chair Stacy Shea and state Executive Committeeman Randy Page cited “intimidation, threats, bullying, disenfranchisement and character assassination” by Trump supporters who sometimes use the MAGA moniker for his Make America Great Again political motto.
The three who resigned were elected in a virtual convention in April as part of a broader battle for control of the statewide party apparatus, which included the successful bid of state chairman Drew McKissick against high-profile lawyer and Trump loyalist Lin Wood.
Stutts was instrumental in creating the group that provided structure to the local MAGA movement, MY SCGOP.
Stutts replaced Page after his resignation. Stutts and other MAGA supporters who sought a purge of those considered disloyal to the former president said the state GOP election was marred by cheating and demanded the resignations.
“We are following the advice of President Trump, who encouraged all of the MAGA supporters to go out, get involved and take over the parties with their true MAGA supporters,” Stutts told The Post and Courier in July. “That’s what we did.”
Throughout his battle with COVID-19, hundreds expressed their faith that Stutts would recover, then shared condolences.
U.S. Rep. William Timmons, who represents the Upstate's 4th District, was among them.
"We lost a true patriot today," Timmons posted on his Facebook page. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
Jamie Lovegrove contributed from Columbia.