Mississippi College Family Mourns Loss of MC Student Sean Gauley
January 16, 2014
Sean Gauley touched many hearts as a Mississippi College student who loved the Lord. Members of the university family are deeply saddened by his death earlier this week.
The 19-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky died in a hospital Monday January 13 following injuries sustained in a December 18 automobile accident in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as many students headed home for the Christmas holidays.
“He just let Christ shine through him like I’ve never seen before,” said MC friend Alex Huff, 19, of Brandon, who rushed with Sean, to join the Shawreth men’s club. It’s a campus group of brothers in Christ with a strong commitment to one another and their faith.
“He was so genuine. That’s what he will be remembered for, his love for his Savior and how he was happy to be alive. He shared the love with everyone,” Huff said.
Sean’s love for others and happiness “was so contagious,” Alex said. “Sean was one of my two closest friends. If I was ever having a bad day, all I had to do was talk to Sean and see his smile.”
At the close-knit Baptist-affiliated university, student leaders plan to conduct a memorial service on the Clinton campus next week for their classmate. His funeral will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Heritage Baptist Church in his hometown of Owensboro. Those unable to attend can watch the funeral via live streaming.
It’s a Kentucky congregation with many members pouring out prayers for Gauley and his family in recent weeks. Members of churches in Mississippi and elsewhere joined in with a flood of messages to the family on Facebook posts and other social media.
In an email sent to Mississippi College students, faculty and staff, Sean’s father, Jim Gauley, thanked many dear friends for their “love and prayers for Sean and now our family. May you be strengthened by Jesus Christ, and His great love for His people, in multiplied measure as we all have been by you all. God is good.”
His son, Sean, he said, “is safely home. Blessings to all in Christ.”
The Gauley family has been closely linked to Mississippi College for several years. Sean’s older brother, Austin Gauley, was an award-winning interior design student at MC where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2012, and was a student worker in the Art Department. He’s presently a graduate student in interior design and a teaching assistant at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Sean, a freshman at MC, told his friends he wanted to become a biology teacher. Sean's father is a math teacher.
Derek Walker, an MC graduate student in art, cherished his friendship with Sean, his brother Austin, and other members of the Gauley family.
“Sean Gauley was more than a friend, he was a brother that brought joy to so many,” Walker said. “He loved Christ and therefore loved people. He had a joy and light about him that shined everywhere he went. His life radiated the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so has his death.”
At the same time, Walker says the Mississippi College family “rejoices because he is with God. We rejoice that he suffers no more.”
Members of the Shawreth organization at Mississippi College gathered on the Clinton campus Tuesday evening to share their memories of Gauley. Some talked about supporting a scholarship in his honor or perhaps planting a tree on the Clinton campus in his name.
Gauley received major injuries in December when he was driving his 1996 Acura on I-20/59 when his vehicle collided with a 2012 freight van driven by Jimmy Huffman, 64. Both men were airlifted to a hospital at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In recent weeks, MC students and other friends of the family received frequent updates on Sean’s condition via social media.
Shawreth’s president, MC senior Lee McCarty of Meridian, will always remember Sean for his upbeat attitude no matter what the circumstances. “Sean was always positive and of good humor about life. He was very encouraging to talk to and was a good example of living life in the most enjoyable way possible.”
Seeing someone like Sean die at such a young age is making many Mississippi College students think about getting the most out of their lives every day.
The challenge, McCarty said, is to “live it to the fullest and not waste a moment because you never know when it will be your last day here on earth.”
At the 5,030-student university, Gauley will be sorely missed. Sean was a vital part of our MC family,” said Mark Hughes, dean of enrollment services. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and we ask God to provide comfort in the days to come.”