“Sometimes life happens suddenly,” the Rev. Charles Kiser told the family and friends of Antonio “Tony” Heath at his funeral Saturday. Heath, 41, was killed in Rock Hill last week, three days before Thanksgiving.
Heath is survived by a wife, seven children and a stepson.
After Saturday’s funeral a large group of mourners gathered outside St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church where a woman sang “Amazing Grace” to Heath’s young children.
It takes time to heal from the pain caused by the death of a loved one, Kiser told Heath’s family. “This don’t go away overnight ... Even though it seems that God is not hearing your cry, I’m here to tell you, he is.”
Kiser’s eulogy for Heath focused on the unexpected trials and tribulations of life. Heath was taken too soon, he said, and the shooting that claimed his life is one of many “sudden storms” that his friends and family may face.
“The way you get through the sudden storms of life is to use your faith,” Kiser said. “You hold onto God’s unchanging hand.”
Heath is survived by his parents Anna Shealy Shelby and Carl Crawford, Jr., a brother, two sisters, four stepbrothers, and a stepsister.
Family members want justice for the violence that took Heath’s life, said Jeanne Heath, one of his sisters, on Saturday.
Rock Hill police officials are looking for two suspects in the Deerfield Run Apartment shooting. As of late Saturday afternoon no arrests had been made and police had not released a possible motive for the violence.
Authorities said last week that Heath died at Piedmont Medical Center on Monday night after being shot by two men carrying handguns and wearing camouflage jackets. Heath was shot in the breezeway of the apartment complex where he lived.
On Saturday, loved ones remembered Heath as a family man. “He was always joking ... Always making us laugh,” Jeanne Heath said.
Four large posters and framed family photos sat at the front of the church sanctuary near Heath’s casket. The photos included happy moments of Heath with his wife Carrie and his children – the youngest, 4 years old. There were pictures of Heath’s favorite car – a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass – and images of family vacations.
Those memories “are keeping me afloat,” said his brother Jackie.
Jackie Heath said his brother lived a life that inspires him. “I want to be more of a father-figure like him ... He wouldn’t want me to be sad right now but I can’t help it.”