PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Funny, loving and a music genius. That's how friends and family members are remembering long time music instructor Kevin Benefield. The 62-year-old was killed this weekend on I-10 when an 18-wheeler crossed into the median and crashed head-on into his vehicle.
Benefield taught at Resurrection High School where students and staff spent Monday remembering and celebrating his life.
"We are really going to miss him. He left a really big impact on all of us."
Savanna Galloway fought back tears as she talked about her favorite teacher, Kevin Benefield, with Resurrection High Principal Kay McKenna.
"He always saw the good in everybody," said Galloway.
So to hear the man known for his huge heart had died in car accident over the weekend was heartbreaking. Terranie Packer is still in shock. She's known Benefield since she was six.
"We were like zombies. It was so unreal. We walked by his classroom and it didn't seem like his classroom. It just seems like and empty place. Everybody was crying and so emotional," Terranie Parker said.
The 62-year-old worked as the music instructor at Resurrection High School for nearly three years. He also worked for the Pascagoula School District. Students said there was never a dull moment in his class.
"He would always say these funny things like, 'Open your mouth to the north and south and something would come out.' He just always made people smile," student Meagan Koon said.
His contagious personality and love for music spanned across the coast.
"He has played for so many weddings, christenings, funerals, special events. He was a wonderful man to know. If you didn't know him, you missed out on a great man," Principal Kay McKenna said.
A memorial of music notes is now up at the school to honor Benefield's life. On each note is a special message for a man who the school said was much more than a music teacher.
"I am sure I speak for a lot of people when I say Mr. Benefield had a little piece of everyone's heart. Now that he is gone, that piece of heart is gone. But he is taking it up to Heaven with him, so that is all that matters," said Koon.
Visitation for Kevin Benefield is at noon on Wednesday at Resurrection Elementary School in Pascagoula at Delmas Activity Center. A funeral mass will follow at 3 p.m.