Camp Winnataska staff remembering one of its own, Chris Sterley


PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT)– On Thursday, the Camp Winnataska community is remembering one of their own.

Chris Sterley died in a drowning accident on Lake Wedowee in Randolf County on Saturday. It took three days and a dozen rescue teams and departments to recover his body. 

Sterley spent most of his high school and college summers at Lake Winnataska. He had just gotten a job as a nurse at UAB and was set to begin working with COVID-19 patients in less than three weeks.

Sterley’s friends describe him as selfless, someone who made their lives better.

“Not only was he a hard worker, but so joyful while he worked too. I can say this for myself as well as anyone else, he truly inspired everyone to be a better person and to work harder,” said Brooke Gilliam, one of Sterley’s camp friends.

Noah Soto and Sterley have been friends since elementary school. Soto said, through tears, it’s difficult to live in a world without his best friend.

“It’s hard to imagine not being able to call him during the day or in the middle of the night and see how his day has been going,” he said.

Sterley’s family said he wanted to stay close to home to be near them and continue visiting Camp Winnataska.

“I think the world lost a great person, and we need more Christophers in this world, for sure,” said his mother, Kristine Dolly.

Dolly said now that her son is gone, they’ll live each day selflessly and generously, with Chris in mind.

“I’m going to miss his hugs and hearing, ‘I love you, mom.'”

Roughly 100 staff members, friends and family came to Camp Winnataska to celebrate Sterley’s life. The camp is currently rebuilding a deck and dedicating it to his memory.

A memorial fund has been set up for Sterley. His funeral will be held at Southern Heritage Funeral Home on Tuesday in Pelham.


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