Josh Rone, the Bartlett Yancey football player killed by gunfire in mid September, was eulogized Saturday as a fun loving teen who attracted friends easily and would do anything for those in his wide circle.
“He was a kid who truly loved people,” remembered football coach Joshua Brumfield during a funeral service at the Caswell County Civic Center. “It was nothing he wouldn’t do for you.”
He and others said that devotion was on display the evening of Sept. 18 when, his family says, Rone stepped in to help a friend under attack by a group of guys at the Danville-Pittsylvania County Fair. As he and his friend were leaving after the fight, his family said, someone shot Rone in the back, killing him.
(The Pittsylvania County (Va.) Sheriffs Dept. has declined to comment on circumstances surrounding the death. As of early this week no one had been arrested.)
Speaking to 200 or more mourners, the Rev. Tavaris Johnson, a Badin, NC pastor and vice presiding bishop of the Acts Fellowship, found parallels to the tragedy in a Biblical verse from John’s gospel: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
That was Rone, he said. He called him “the epitome of Biblical love,” which, he pointed out, takes more than good thought and emotion. It requires action.
Rone, he said, “didn’t know the outcome. But he knew one thing: ‘My friend needs my help.’”
Knowing how anxious fellow mourners were that authorities find those responsible and make them pay, the Rev. Alton Vann of Jones Crossroads Missionary Baptist Church cautioned: “Justice and revenge is the Lord’s work. But forgiveness is the gift that God gives you.”
Said Vann: “God, we surrender Josh to you. I pray mercy, but I also pray justice.”
To BY football players at the fair when Rone died and are now wrestling with the pain of loss and wondering if they could have done something to change the outcome, Brumfield urged them to put thoughts of guilt aside. Still, he acknowledged: “Our pain doesn’t stop now.”
Brumfield, who had coached Rone since Dillard Middle School and had developed a close relationship with him, said the youngster had begun to see a bright future ahead and was working hard to make it happen.
“We all saw a change in him,” the coach said. He credited Micah Rone, Josh Rone’s older brother who was also on the team, with “a big part of that. He looked up (to you). He had really turned it on.”
He acknowledged “we’ll never understand” what happened. But he urged them to “honor (Rone) in everything you do” and to “stick with the family. Stick with them for years to come.”
In addition to Micah, Rone’s immediate family including parents Joel Rone and Christina Gomes, and sister, Kayla Rone.