Daniel Robert D'Clute, pastor of family ministries at New Harvest Christian Church in Oregon, died unexpectedly Friday at his home in Oregon. He was 40.
The cause of death was unknown pending an autopsy, his mother, Ruth D'Clute said.
"He was asleep and didn't wake up. The girls [two daughters] tried to wake him, and he didn't wake up," she said.
Mr. D'Clute was passionate about helping children and teenage youth.
He was a member and youth leader of the teen groups as a high school student, and he continued volunteering with the groups after graduation.
He became a pastor there 11 years ago, his mother said.
"He felt called by God to work with youth," Mrs. D'Clute said.
After Mr. D'Clute graduated from Genoa High School, he met his wife, Deena, at church. They married in 1994.
Both went to work for Bartlett Nuclear Inc., a Massachusetts-based firm that maintains the infrastructure of power-generating utilities, including the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. In the late 1990s, the couple often traveled together to the western states to help repair power outages.
His mother said she wasn't surprised when he announced that he wanted to leave the job for a more spiritual career.
He was so involved in volunteering with church youth.
She said she believes young people trusted her son with their problems because they could sense "his passion for Christ and his compassion for others."
"I know where he is today," Mrs. D'Clute said.
"He had wisdom beyond what many of us have."
Mr. D'Clute was especially good at teaching teens the practical applications of the Bible, and the task came easily with his humor and natural story-telling abilities, his brother-in-law, Ted Fisher, said. Mr. Fisher is also an associate pastor at the church.
"They related to him because he was funny," Mr. Fisher said.
"He was just one of those personalities, always had some kind of comic, funny way of putting things."
Mr. D'Clute is survived by his wife, Deena; daughters, Jaqlyn and Jordyn; mother, Ruth; brothers, David and Donald, and sisters, Teri Fisher and Tami Heritage.
Friends may call from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at New Harvest Christian Church. Funeral services will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to his wife and daughters through the church.