(Decatur, GA) - Fun, caring and God-loving. These are a few of the words that were used to describe Candace McGriff during her funeral last week.
McGriff, a physical education teacher at C.J. Hicks Elementary School, was murdered from a gunshot wound to the chest on Feb. 17. DeKalb Police arrested and charged her 30-year-old fiancé, Antione Hood, on Feb. 20 for the killing.
Several of McGriff’s family, friends, co-workers and students packed the Greenforest Community Baptist Church in DeKalb County on Feb. 28 to show respect to the 28 year old, who many say was taken too soon.
C.J. Hicks Elementary School Principal Nadine Campbell spoke about how McGriff, who worked at the school since January 2011, affected everyone at the school in a positive way.
“Candace touched so many lives because she loved life fully and embraced it with laughter and sincerity,” said Campbell to the grief stricken audience. “She was loving, honest, funny, witty, and very, very loyal.”
None of McGriff’s students spoke during the service, but Campbell read quotes from the numerous letters students wrote in remembrance of “Coach” McGriff.
One student wrote, “You were my favorite teacher,” while another student wrote, “I loved her jokes and you made me laugh a lot.”
One thing that every student wrote down on their letter was, “I love you Coach McGriff,” said Campbell.
“To me, this not only confirms Candace’s role as a caregiver with students, but it confirms her character as a person,” she said.
Jasmine Stinson, McGriff’s AKA sorority sister, spoke about how McGriff would be hers, and others, motivation through tough times.
“She was the one I called anytime I had something set before me that I didn’t think I could overcome. Candace would tell me to keep going,” she said with a stream of tears rolling down her face. “Candace was the one that one would drive in the middle of the night whenever I told her I needed someone there. She did this for me, and she did this for others.”
The two-hour long service ended with a special tribute video showing pictures of McGriff in candid moments with her family and friends, including McGriff playing on the basketball court, playing videogames and cuddling with cats.
McGriff grew up in Valdosta, Georgia. She graduated from Lowndes High School in 2005 and then pursed a health and physical education at Georgia Southern University. She graduated in 2010.