DOBSON — A lot of tears and a little laughter marked the celebration of Commissioner Garry Scearce’s life during last night’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
Scearce, who served on the board for an incomplete term but was elected vice chairman by the other commissioners, died on July 22, following a prolonged battle with cancer. Prior to serving on the board, he spent more than three decades working for the county’s emergency services department.
The meeting room was filled to capacity as former co-workers, family, friends and government officials gathered for what was billed as a “Celebration of Commissioner Garry Emerson Scearce’s Life.”
And a celebration it was, as numerous co-workers and elected officials took a moment to remember the beloved county resident.
“He had an impact on every one of us,” said Emergency Services Chaplain Dennis Barnette. “If you ever met him, he was never a stranger.”
The event got under way with two emergency services employees, Nathan Webb and Jamie Dooley, honoring Scearce in song, singing duets on “Feeling Mighty Fine” and “I Will Rise.”
But emotions ran high as friends and co-workers took a moment to say a few words.
With a cracking voice and barely keeping his composure, Emergency Services Director John Shelton said he served with Scearce for more than 30 years.
“He always served with his heart,” Shelton said, barely holding back tears. “The compassion Garry had was amazing.”
Breaking down and unable to complete the sentence, Shelton said Scearce will always be remembered by county rescue personnel.
“He had things he wanted to do (before he died), and when most people would have given up, Garry stuck with it,” he said tearfully. “I will never forget him. We love him.”
Looking at Scearce’s son Corey, who now works for Emergency Services, Shelton said, “You have some big shoes to fill, but you can do it.”
It was a sentiment that resonated with other speakers.
Commissioner Paul Johnson told the younger Scearce that his father had given him all the tools he would ever need.
“Follow in the path that Garry set for you and you will be fine,” he said.
Johnson glanced at the empty seat formerly filled by Scearce.
“No one will ever replace him,” he said quietly through tears. “But someone will fill his seat.”
Kirk Killon, who described himself as Scearce’s “supervisor, partner, assistant and friend,” said Scearce’s desire to better the world he lived in is an example to everyone.
“He worked hard for our county and our community,” he said. “Everything he did he did with all his might. He loved people with all his might, and maybe that’s why we loved him as much as we do. He had a good soul.”
Board of Commissioners Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding called Scearce an “inspiration,” saying Scearce “knew what he wanted and served with dedication.”
Like many honoring Scearce, Commissioner Eddie Harris broke down during his tribute.
“He had a tremendous impact on my life,” he said. “I’ll never forget him.
“My life has been greatly impacted by Garry,” he said, openly crying. “He was just a good person to be around and I’m going to miss him dearly. He worked like a soldier and was always dedicated. He was a dedicated Christian and a wonderful family man. One of the county’s leading citizens.”
Perhaps the most moving part of the celebration of Scearce’s life came as the board presented Scearce’s widow Vickey and family his commissioner’s chair.
Prior to the presentation, former co-workers and current commissioners placed roses in the chair as Barnette read from a plaque presented to the family.
Written by Golding, the sentiment summed up the feeling in the room:
“The Chair is empty now. God’s decision is final. We prayed, we pleaded — we don’t understand, but that is the way it is.
“We mortals never think it is fair in these situations. God always knows best. He is in control. Our dear friend, comrade and fellow public servant no doubt is in a better place, with his Savior.
“Let us celebrate his life! Remember all the good times, never forget his loved ones and always know that he left this earth a better place.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.