Published 6:13 am Monday, December 8, 2008
By By MaryClaire Foster
The life of Gary Joe “Joey” McGhee Jr. was short lived, but the impact he made during it was evident last week.
Hundreds of classmates and faculty at Escambia County High School wrote messages on a memorial banner hung at the school, and his MySpace page was flooded with visitor comments late last week. Many of those same people braved long lines in the cold to pay their last respects Thursday evening as they attended his viewing and again on Friday at his funeral held at Petty-Eastside Chapel.
McGhee, a 16-year-old Atmore resident and member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, was killed Dec. 2 when he, driving his four-wheeler, and a truck collided head-on around 5 p.m.
On his MySpace page, McGhee wrote riding his four-wheeler and motorcycle and being outside was what he loved to do.
Makayla Smith, a cousin of McGhee’s, said he was constantly riding his all terrain vehicle.
More than his love for the outdoors was his love for others, according to friends and family.
Brittney Holland was another one of McGhee’s cousins and when asked what she would miss the most about him, she responded, “Just him being around and making everybody laugh, he was always making you smile and laugh.”
Tawana Parham, a member of the Tribe, said she knew Joey his entire life and watched him grow up.
Parham also works as a liaison between the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe and schools and helped students deal with their grief, speaking with them individually and in groups on Wednesday.
The banner was hung inside of the high school and signed by hundreds of students and faculty members.
Message after message mentioned the smile McGhee always had on his face and the laughter and happiness he brought to others’ lives.
His MySpace page was covered with nearly 50 messages of love and sympathy.
Like the banner messages, almost every one mentioned his smile and good humor and the positive way those impacted others.
Tammy Weeks was McGhee’s counselor at ECHS and said she always knew him as a friendly and happy person, but she also saw him transform in the time she knew him.
Weeks added that McGhee had been at church the Sunday prior to his death. He attended Friendly Holiness in Poarch.
His father, Gary Joe McGhee Sr.; grandparents, Avery Turner and Louise Turner and great grandparents, Verlie Bailey, M.C. Morris, Norvie Lee McGhee and Gladys McGhee, each preceded him in death.
Survivors include his mother, Christine Ward and stepfather Ray Ward of Atmore; three sisters, Tawaka Walls of Bay Minette, Crystal and Trenton Daughtry of Nokomis and Magen and Trevor Daughtry of Poarch; grandparents, Russell and Maxine Lassiter of Booneville; great grandmother, Hattie Lou Morris of Poarch; three nephews, Dameon Rolin, Maurice Gibson and Jaylan Daughtry; four nieces, Tonie Marie Gibson, Lexi Daughtry, Gabby Williams and Josie Daughtry and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.