Former county commissioner, community activist Bishop Randy Royal dead at 63

A former county commissioner and a community activist in Pitt County has died.

Bishop Randy Royal passed away Sunday from continued complications from a stroke he had in 2005. He was 63 years old.

The New Bern native became pastor of the Philippi Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ in 1982, and helped grow the church to more than 2500 members.

He served one term on the Pitt County Board of Commissioners, and was also on the Pitt County Memorial Hospital board as well as on the county health board.

Royal passed away at Vidant Medical Center surrounded by his family.

"We were there to share our feelings and our love and he felt us," says Onica Royal, the bishop's daughter. "He was able to say, 'I love ya, you know. Be strong. I'm ready to go and it's time to celebrate'."

The family is still finalizing plans for his funeral, but encourages people to attend a choir event planned for church on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. We're told Bishop Royal had planned to be there and would want people to celebrate his life.