Hundreds clapped, swayed and sang along to a soulful version of the bluegrass standard “I’ll Fly Away” as they remembered LeCarvin “Kevin” Lewis on Thursday afternoon.
Lewis, 41, was found dead on the grounds of the Denton State Supported Living Center on July 4, five days after he was reported missing. He had lived at the center off and on for the past two decades.
Members of the center staff and Lewis’ many friends joined his family for a home-going ceremony in the center’s chapel, a memorial service that included music, prayers, Bible readings, video and lots of sharing.
Wes Cohoon, the center’s chaplain, led the service, including a reading and eulogy based on Psalm 13.
Known for its questioning first line, “How long, O Lord,” and the many expressions of doubt that follow, Cohoon assured Lewis’ family and friends that it’s OK to have questions about their loss.
“God invites questions,” Cohoon said. “He’s heartbroken as well.”
Cohoon passed the microphone around the crowd, which gathered testimonials from Lewis’ family as well as his many friends at the center who were keenly feeling the loss, too.
One resident called Lewis a great guy. Another said he would miss seeing Lewis’ face. Yet another took the time to write his remarks and struggled to keep his composure as he read them.
“I don’t know what to do or say to make you come back,” he said. “But I know we’ll see each other again.”
Several speakers reminded the crowd that Lewis was home and no longer hurting, and that it was actually the people in the room who needed healing.
One parent rose to say that the center’s residents are family to each other as well. To applause, another parent, Angela Reynolds-Biggs, said she hopes the loss will also draw everyone closer together.
“My prayer is that God will comfort all who need to be comforted in the way that they need to be comforted,” she said.
Both music and video offered comfort during the service, including a heartfelt rendition of Kirk Franklin’s contemporary gospel song “Take Me to the King.”
Lewis’ love of Michael Jackson’s music was woven throughout the service, from family members who donned a single-mirrored glove to a video montage of family photos set to Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone.” The photos alongside both formal and school portraits showed a bright-eyed Lewis and his toothy smile beginning at a young age, from Christmas memories and peewee basketball to family visits to the park and the beach.
Records with the Tarrant County medical examiner on Thursday showed that the agency has not yet determined Lewis’ cause of death, which Denton police are investigating.
“The investigation remains ongoing pending a final report from the medical examiner,” said Khristen Jones, police department spokeswoman.