In 2007, bodybuilder and Massillon native Devin Dearth suffered a devastating stroke. He battled back from it, even going to China for treatment and receiving national attention for his efforts.
But on Sunday Mr. Dearth died. His brother Doug Dearth, who chronicled Devin’s China journey in the documentary 9,000 Needles, said “the stroke left Devin with several severe complications which he was ultimately unable to overcome.” He was 46.
Mr. Dearth, a University of Akron graduate who resided in Carrollton, at the time of his stroke was a champion bodybuilder in Kentucky — “the Mr. Kentucky,” as Men’s Health magazine put it in a 2011 article. “A champion body builder. Arguably the hardest working person in the Blue Grass State. He hit the gym at 4 o’clock in the morning, every morning, then spent 8 hours a day working his six-figure job,” the magazine said.
After the stroke, caused by a bleed in his brain stem, he was unable to speak and in a wheelchair, and conventional treatments were not helping. Doug Dearth learned of a Chinese acupuncture process that might make a difference. The treatment ultimately involved the 9,000 needles in the film’s title, but Mr. Dearth was able to walk and speak afterward.
The documentary, as the 9,000 Needles website notes, found Mr. Dearth tested on a daily basis. Still, the production — which was shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2010 — aimed to show that “with faith and determination, the human spirit can transcend any and all boundaries.”
“Devin’s determination and sense of humor was an inspiration to us all,” Doug Dearth said in an email after his brother’s death. “His willingness to share his journey with the rest of the world in the documentary … has left a legacy of change in his wake, from legislative changes to master’s programs being taught at TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] colleges.
“To this day, his story is being shared as a teaching tool in hospitals, clinics and universities across the nation,” Doug Dearth said. “Nothing would make Devin happier than to know that his challenge has helped others to have the courage to overcome their obstacles and to keep up the good fight no matter what. Because it is not the challenge, but who shows up to the challenge that really defines who you are.”
Doug Dearth, who also made the locally shot film Underdogs, added, “In Devin’s memory, our family would like to encourage others to reach out to someone else in need, and however big or small, do something for them or their families that makes their life a little bit easier, and more importantly, let them know they are loved.”
A memorial service will be at 6 p.m. Friday in the Church of Christ, 353 Moody Ave., Carrollton.
Devin Dearth was born June 8, 1967. He had been president of Brewco in Central City, Ky. He had also served in the Ohio National Guard and the Army Reserve for eight years, where he was a staff sergeant and a medic.
Survivors include his son, Zachary Dearth of Central City, Ky., daughters Kaley Dearth of Kent and Sarah Dearth of Central City; brothers Doug of Los Angeles and David of Massillon; sister Dawn of Kent; father, David of Canton; and mother, Barbara Maple of Carrollton. Arrangements are by Allmon-Dugger-Cotton Funeral Home in Carrollton.