Nearly one year after a tragic car crash left her in a coma, 18-year-old Gracie Davis succumbed to the injuries on Wednesday, Dec. 7, a day before what would have been her 19th birthday.
A celebration of life service was held Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Red Bay High School Gym. The service gave community members one more opportunity to show their love and support for not only Gracie but also to her family. A crowd filled the gym to say final goodbyes to the young lady whose story touch thousands of lives far from the town and school where she grew up.
Davis was a five-year member of the Red Bay High School Marching Band, spending four of those years in the position of drum major. She was a 2022 graduate of Red Bay High School. Additionally, she was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Red Bay and worked at Big Star here. Her obituary, on page 5 of this edition, said, “She loved to draw and could draw anything she saw. Gracie’s smile could light up a dark room and make a rainy day look bright. Her story has touched so many around the world. We have been praying for healing and a complete recovery and God has answered our prayers.”
Described by many as being one of the kindest and sweetest individuals you could ever meet, Davis was hospitalized on December 17, 2021 after she and another occupant of the vehicle she was driving were involved in a one-vehicle crash in Arkansas. While the passenger was treated for minor injuries and released, Davis remained hospitalized in Hot Springs, Ark., until she was stable enough to be transferred to the Shoals, where she was cared for much of the time by the staff of Mitchell-Hollingsworth Nursing Home.
A Facebook page, Saving Grace, set up to share information on Davis’ status and her journey quickly amassed more than 3,000 followers. Many of those who followed Gracie’s journey in the past year filled the gym Sunday.
Red Bay First Methodist Church pastor Dallas Culver opened the service with a prayer that likely echoed the feelings of most in the building.
“Gracious God, we shouldn’t be here today. Gracie is far too young for us to be offering her up to you. But here we are, Lord. We’ve come seeking your mercy, your love, your strength and your support in our lives. Father, we thank you for Gracie. We thank you, Lord, that she has lived her life for you.”
Culver said as difficult as the day was, it was an opportunity to remember all the good Gracie brought to the lives of those she touched.
“We are here to celebrate the life of Gracie Davis,” Culver said. “We’re here not to remember the nightmare this past year has been. We’re here to remember the joy and the smiles and the love that she put in our hearts and on our faces.”
The Red Bay High School Band performed “It Is Well with My Soul,” with Davis’s sisters joining the band for the song.
Former Red Bay First Methodist Church pastor Mitch Nethery also spoke, reminding those in attendance it was okay to be struggling with emotions throughout this turn of events.
“It is well with my soul. That doesn’t mean the rest of me as well. It doesn’t mean it has to be,” Nethery said. In relaying the story of how the song’s writer, Horatio Spafford, had lost his wife and four daughters in a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean following a year of tragedy for him and his family, Nethery pointed out the hope we can have in light of such misery.
“The song was written after a horrible tragedy,” Nethery said. “He wrote the song, and I imagine there were a lot of things that weren’t well, but it’s a great thing when your soul can be well in the middle of heartache and pain and struggle and strife. It’s good to know when we sorrow, we don’t sorry like the world does, like we don’t have any hope. We sorrow differently.
“There’s no doubt today that Gracie is alright. Gracie is doing mighty fine. Gracie is doing great. But that doesn’t mean you are, or I am – and it’s OK to not be doing great.”
Nethery shared verses from Isaiah to remind those in attendance that God’s comfort is available for all. He also shared of how Gracie had impacted his own household when she convinced his daughter they needed a cat. Nethery also shared fun memories of Gracie’s time with a soccer team he led.
“The world says it’s over, it’s done,” Nethery said. “Everybody here is living proof it’s not over. She impacted you and she will continue to impact you. Her seeds in your life will continue to grow. What she shared with you and the joy of it she shared with you, it’s always there.”
Jean Marie Moore, one of Davis’ friends, also spoke during the service and spoke of how during last December’s candlelight vigil she shared a letter she had written to Davis on Davis’ 16th birthday. Moore then shared another letter she wrote for Davis to share on this day, since it came so close to her 19th birthday.
“Dear Gracie. I just want to start out by telling you how much I love you and how I always have and always will. Everybody loves you. You’ve made an impact on everyone who ever had the honor of knowing you,” Moore said. “Even people who didn’t know you well who heard your story were touched by it. You fought so hard, and I know you’ve always had to fight, even before this. I’ve always known about and admired your strength. There is so much you’ve overcome, but I know it’s time for you to rest now. And you can rest now and be with God and your loved ones you’ve been missing. You’ll get to celebrate your 19th birthday in heaven. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful party with a big chocolate cake and pretty pink balloons. You’re back to yourself now, with your beautiful blond hair, and your blue eyes can be open and see God’s kingdom in front of you.”
Davis is survived by her parents, Mitch and Marie Davis; two sisters Jade Fabian (Melquedes) and Kelsey Davis; grandparents, Cynthia Ezzell (Donnie), Archie Scott, and Chuck Ray; her uncles Drew and Bart Davis; her aunts Kelli Thrasher (Brendon) and Kerry Williams and a host of other aunts, uncles and cousins.
In a tribute on his Facebook page, Bart Davis shared how others can honor Gracie’s memory.“Gracie loved flowers, but she also loved helping others,” Davis wrote. “If you want to honor her you can make a donation to the Red Bay First United Methodist Church Youth Group she loved so much, the RBHS Marching Band, or the local Building Believers In Christ Non Profit.”