PALMETTO -- Saturday was a day of mourning.
Two families and hundreds of mourners, both struck by the same tragedy, gathered at two separate funeral services to remember the lives of Trayon Bernard “Geezy” Goff, Sr., 25, and Gwenette Matthews, 38.
Both are victims of a shooting last week at Club Elite, that left 22 others wounded. Palmetto police are still investigating the case.
“It was a good service,” said Pervis Goff, 17, after he’d watched his brother’s daughter Trayonni release a white dove in her father’s honor outside Bible Baptist Church. “He was a good guy.”
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Across the river Matthews, 38, was remembered at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
“She was a giving person and a loving mom,” said Wayne Douglas, Matthews’ uncle. “As a little girl she always had a smile on her face.”
Both services were packed, with mourners standing at the back of the churches.
Goff, a Los Angeles Lakers fan, was buried in the jersey of his favorite player Kobe Byrant. Some of those who attended also wore Bryant jerseys and the Lakers’ colors of purple and gold. A gold car, which Goff had customized, was parked in front of the church.
Pervis Goff said he will never forget his brother’s encouraging nature.
“He always told me I was going to make it,” he said.
Matthew’s service was personalized with musical performances by relatives and friends.
Her nephew Fredrick Matthews sang a song. There was a “praise dance” performed by Natasha Burney, along with other performances in Matthew’s honor. The program with photos of Matthews and her family included a thank you from her family.
“Our sincere appreciation is extended to each of you, your kindness will not be forgotten,” it said.
Loud cries and shows of affection could be seen and heard at both services as people tried to make sense of the deaths.
Pastor Roosevelt Watkins made a call for peace.
“It’s time to stop this reckless irresponsibility. It’s time to put away the guns and stop the violence that is destroying our homes,” Pastor Watkins said at Goff’s service. “It’s time to put it away. Retaliation is not the answer.”
A similar message was expressed at Matthews’ service.
“I don’t know about you but I am tired of folks acting crazy in our community,” said Elder Roosevelt Dunbar Sr. “I don’t want another one of our family members to go out like this.”
There was a police presence at both services.
Matthews is survived by her son Corbett R. Mabry, daughter Charnekia Matthews, grandson Dominique Wortham Jr., along with her extended family.
“Family was important to her,” Douglas said, recalling how Matthews always attended family functions and helped cook meals.
Charnekia Matthews expressed her love for her mother in a letter printed in a memorial program.
“One thing that can give me peace is knowing you are with the Lord, and you and I, we loved one another,” she wrote. “I can remember you saying that, ‘I am your mother, not your friend,’ but you did an excellent job of doing both.”
Matthews was a 1990 Bayshore High School graduate and graduated from Manatee Technical Institute as a certified nursing assistant and medical assistant. She also was an active church member.
“Life will leave us all a story to remember. I recall the last conversation I had with sister Matthews. It was on that Wednesday,” said Pastor Kevin Washington. “She answered the phone and then we conversed. She said, ‘Pastor, I am going through some small things.’ I shared some words of encouragement with her.”
Before the conversation was over, Matthews told Washington, “I will see you in worship soon.”
“Sunday never came for sister Gwenette,” he said.
Like Matthews, Goff was a parent as well.
He leaves behind his sons Trayon Jr. and Trayon V and daughter Trayonni, along with a large extended family. He was remembered at his service for the positive energy and the love he showed.
Goff’s uncle Victor Davis said Goff would get upset if he said “I love you,” and didn’t hear it back.
“He had a lot of love in his heart, so you know where he is right now,” Davis said. “He’s up there with the Lord so don’t cry no more cause I know where he’s at.” He then asked everyone in the church to turn to the person next to them and say I love you.