Jeremiah Trusty, Singer, Model, Actor, Dies at 38

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This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Jeremiah Trusty was many things: a singer, a model, an actor, an improvisational comedian and, for a time, a basketball player for a Christian missionary group in Japan.

A lean 6-foot-4, he most recently acted in several original musicals for the Aurway Repertory Theater in Newark, as well as in a virtual workshop for another production mounted in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He had perfect comedic timing, which you can’t teach,” said Lawrence Dandridge, the co-founder and creative artistic director of Aurway, who wrote and directed all the musicals. He added: “He was our oldest company member, and as our elder he kept us all in line.”

Some of the people who knew Mr. Trusty well recalled his humility and his encouragement.

“I was doing an improv and I apologized for being weird,” said Latisha Di Venuto, who knew him through a group called Actors, Models and Talents for Christ. “He said, ‘Don’t apologize, it’s beautiful, lean into it.’ That gave me permission to be myself.”

Mr. Trusty died on March 31 at a hospital in Jersey City, N.J., where he lived. He was 38. His mother, Diane (Stewart) Fisher, said the cause was Covid-19.

Jeremiah Timothy Trusty was born on Nov. 16, 1982, in Media, Pa., west of Philadelphia, and raised in nearby Boothwyn. His mother is a retired salesperson for DuPont; his father, Raymond, was a postal carrier.

Jeremiah sang in his church choir and earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wheaton College, near Chicago, where he played basketball on an athletic scholarship. After graduating in 2004, he worked for two years operating rides at Walt Disney World in Florida, then spent two years playing basketball in Japan for Crusaders for Christ while also singing in a group.

Mr. Trusty juggled interests throughout his career. He signed in 2010 with the modeling agent Stephanie Keel, appearing in print ads and commercials for Merrill Lynch and Pampers. He occasionally styled models during commercial shoots.

Ms. Keel said that Mr. Trusty’s success as a model was more than matched by his empathy: When her mother was dying of cancer, he prayed for his grandmother each morning at 10. Ms. Keel learned of this ritual when he cut short a telephone conversation with her to pray.

“I’ve had a hard time finding any instance or act that meant more to me than his 10 a.m. prayers,” she said by email.

He had also enrolled in a musical theater workshop at the New York Film Academy in Manhattan, taking courses in song interpretation and musical theater history from the actor Thom Christopher Warren.

“He was allowing himself to immerse himself in this kind of training for the first time, and it alternately thrilled and scared him,” Mr. Warren said.

He also took improvisation classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade’s Training Center.

“I think he was someone who saw everything, wanted to do it and did it, sometimes for the heck of it,” said Justin Ayer, a friend who was in an improvisation class with him.

In addition to his mother, Mr. Trusty is survived by his sister, Ayanna Stewart, and his brother, Isaiah.

Singing was the most important part of his artistic portfolio. He had recently set up studio equipment in his apartment and had finished recording “This,” a song he wrote.

“He thought it would be his breakthrough,” Ms. Keel said.

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