Surry County Commissioner Garry Scearce died at 7 a.m. Sunday at home, surrounded by family and friends after a long battle with cancer.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Victory Baptist Church, with the Rev. Joey Jessup officiating. Burial will follow in the Oakdale Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the Victory Baptist Church Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m.
County workers and elected officials alike said Scearce was devoted to his community and led a life of service.
“We are really going to miss him,” said Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton.
Surry County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buck Golding echoed Shelton’s sentiment.
“He is in a better place. It’s one of those things, everything will go on, but there is no doubt that we will miss him. We are facing many challenges and we’ve got lots of soul searching to do, but we will go on,” said Golding.
Commissioner Jimmy Miller said Scearce will be missed.
“We’ve lost a real county commissioner who strived daily to be one of the best. God needed another angel and called him home,” said Miller.
“We are very sad at the loss of our friend and brother. All our prayers are with the family. We will help them get through this the best way possible,” said Commissioner Paul Johnson.
Johnson said $9,347 was raised at Saturday’s fundraiser at Veterans Park, but donations are still coming in.
“It will be more than $10,000 when all is said and done,” said Johnson.
Johnson said Scearce’s death will leave a hole in the community.
“He will be missed by everybody. He was like a brother to me and my family,” said Johnson.
Johnson said he has known Scearce for 25 or 30 years. When Johnson was a first responder and fireman with the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department, Scearce taught the classes he took.
“He taught our classes and we ran calls together. I’ve known Garry a long time,” said Johnson.
Scearce was elected to the board in his first run for public office, garnering 56 percent of the vote in the November 2010 election. Shortly after taking office he was chosen by his fellow commissioners to serve as vice chairman. Less than a year later he received his cancer diagnosis.
Prior to his entrance into politics, Scearce served 30 years as a paramedic with the Surry County Emergency Services.
Scearce was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2011, after he attended a wellness clinic sponsored for county employees. When some tests there showed abnormalities, he received further tests which resulted in the diagnosis of colon cancer. Later, he learned it had spread to his liver, lungs and lymph nodes.
Through several rounds of chemotherapy and surgical procedures, Scearce continued actively serving in his role as county commissioner.
He often credited the “cooperative spirit” of the other commissioners with allowing him to continue serving while undergoing treatment.
“After I was diagnosed, I talked with them (commissioners) about my health issues. I didn’t foresee any problems and neither did my doctors,” he said in an interview in April while reflecting on his treatment and outlook at that time.
The board had even put in plans to allow Scearce to participate by teleconference, if necessary. “We have a great board. We’re all friends who may not always agree, but we’re always going to be friends no matter what happens,” he said. “I enjoy serving on the board and want to continue doing it.”
Publicly, Scearce never complained about his diagnosis or subsequent treatment. He often said the diagnosis was “just another obstacle I have to deal with,” and even joked about his condition. “Chemotherapy is about the best weight loss program you can find,” he once said, laughing as he did. “I’ve tried several programs over the years and none worked. But chemotherapy is working like a charm. I’ve lost 63 pounds.”
He managed to continue attending meetings and making public appearances until the past several weeks.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.