“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1 John 4:7
On Saturday May 4, at 5:30 pm God saw fit to take his angel back to heaven. On highway 133 that afternoon, Raychelle Leajean Gaston was killed in a three way car accident when the vehicle she was riding in was rear-ended by another vehicle near the Oak Ridge Lodge and pushed into the middle median where it was struck by another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.
Raychelle was in the right rear passenger seat, according to the state patrol.
Raychelle was on her way to the reception at the Lodge when accident occurred.
Raychelle was loved by everyone in the community. To say that this is a loss is an understatement. She has touched so many people both near and far. “I’ve known Raychelle for a number of years; I would say almost 20 years,” said Rev. John Powell of Truth for Youth.
“One thought came to mind-how do you say goodbye to yesterday? That would be the question that most people are going to be asking, because all we have now is memories. She was very enlightening young lady, and she was a very exciting young lady. She was committed to her church, her belief, her faith and her pastor. I’m a believer that faith ain’t nothing but love. If you don’t love a person, you can‘t have any faith in you. She was very much loved. People believed and had the upmost confidence in what she did. I believe God snatched her in time and was left was the body because the spirit belongs to God. So, let us think about two old songs: I Come to the Garden and the other is Blessed Quietness, Holy quietness. She is going to be missed in so many ways most of all because of her perseverance.”
Even as a mother, she was astounding. “She was not only my mother, she was my best friend,” said Haley Morrissette her daughter. She was a beautiful soul. She was never mean she was always loving. My mother knew how to balance it out. When I was going to prom, I didn’t want to go, but she sat me down and said we have been working very hard to get you here and when you go you are going to be beautiful. Needless to say, I went and it was one of the best times I had.”
She provided strength and wisdom to her loved ones. “Raychelle was always such a beautiful warm person. She was always giving and helpful even as little kids. We would often fight because she would give someone something they needed instead of looking after herself, “said her sister Dr. Sharon Gaston. “She was my rock. I am so hurt for everybody because she touched everybody. My sister was my heart and my rock.”
Raychelle was full of life and always had something to deposit in their lives. “Barbara Hunter said “I’ve learned from her. I’ve begun to practice smiling at everyone. No matter how they treat you just smile. She was that way.”
Her best friend, Valerie Walker said “Raychelle was more than a friend she was my sister. She was my sister in life and she was my sister in Christ. Her death has left a deep void in my soul. But keep me going knows that she is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Her dedication to church, Deliverance Tabernacle, was total commitment. Raychelle could be found at her church many days and evenings completing projects or just given consoling words to a parishioner. “Elder Tony Grandison stated that Raychelle was with the church at its inception. “Ms Raychelle came in working. She was a part of everything in the church and everyone looked for Raychelle when they had projects going on. Not only at this church but at other churches in the community from churches in Mobile, Atmore, Century, Pensacola, she was willing to help anybody that she could. She was the heartbeat of our church. She was our pastor’s right hand man or lady. I doubt if we will ever get anyone to take her place.” “Her heart was really in to helping people.
Mother Jamie Hixon said “I’ve been here about seven years and Sister Raychelle was a caring person. She was the brains of DT. She was always available for anything 24/7. She was also a powerful woman of God. She could bring the word and would often bring the word on Wednesday night and to the Women’s prayer group on Tuesday night. She was a woman that loved God and people. She is truly going to be missed.”
Raychelle had a passion for God. Her heart was to always serve Him in truth and in spirit. And in truth and spirit she always did her best.
In her professional life, she took the same stance as in spirit. She was one to persevere. She never faltered. “Raychelle was the first African American to have a talk show in Pensacola,” said Vernon Watson, owner of WBQP. “Her first show was call ‘Focus on the Community’. I remember one day Raychelle arrived to work in a frazzle. I said you can’t go on like that. She instantly grabbed a hat and said “let’s go”. “She never let her personal life get in the way of her professional life”. Raychelle shall be missed.”
Robert Hill, owner of WRNE stated, “Pensacola was better because of Raychelle passing through. “She was an awesome individual. Nobody was too big or too small for Raychelle.”
Raychell was full of life. With that award winning smile and a genuine interest in the things and people around her, she made the world light up. She never tired of finding new avenues to get involved in helping others and passing a bit of wisdom. Never one to speak ill of anyone, she always would seek the best in the bad and forgive wherever necessary. She too, was a humble person.
In her quest for life, Raychelle would sometimes take just a moment to smell the flowers. And when she did her relaxation came with sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire, and jazz. “My sister loved Earth Wind and Fire” said Sharon.
“I had the opportunity to spend four days with Raychelle at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival,” said Dr. Earl Crosswright. In the mornings, she would take solitude and walk the beach in the mornings. I was just amazed at how much at peace and how happy she was. That Friday morning, when she returned she was charge up saying how she had so much she wanted to do in the Pensacola area and elsewhere. She was looking forward to making a move to get more things done here.” This is a devastating blow that has happened. Raychelle will be dearly missed but I think she will live on in the lives she has touched.”
Cheryle Hunter commented “I consider myself blessed to have spent time with Raychelle down in Panama City because it did us an intimate setting in which I got a chance to know her much better. We got a chance to relate on a spiritual level with us both being in ministry. I admired how real Raychelle was. Her yes was yes and her no was no. Each morning Raychelle would get up and walk the beach in prayer. She had a beautiful continence, a beautiful smile and a genuine spirit. She had a heart for people and a genuine care for people. She knew how to laugh, how to have fun and I am truly blessed to have been able to spend time with Rachelle those last days”.
“Raychelle was a powerful woman of God’” began Bishop Charles E Young, pastor of Deliverance Tabernacle Church. A lot of what Raychelle did was counseling and mentoring people. She knew the heart of our church was to help people be strengthened spiritually. She would often lay aside the administrative side of the church to minister to people spiritually. That’s what I loved the most about her. She would spend a lot of time on the phone counseling and helping people get through the day. She was an Evangelist and an Elder in our church. She just loved people. She had a pastor’s heart.
Aside from being an Evangelist and an Elder, Raychelle was the Chief Operating Officer of Deliverance Tabernacle Church. “She was my right hand person,” said Bishop Young. Everything that came through our office by way of project and business came through Raychelle. “Everything went through her office. People that came to our church, whether they were in town or out of town, came through her.” “We have a tough job of now finding someone that was so important as she was, now.”
Raychelle Gaston left this earth but the impact she had on many lives will never be forgotten. She was a stand up person, a lovely spirit and a grandmother who dotted on her grandchild.
She will continue to be an inspiration and a footprint in everyone’s life that she touched.
Well done thy good and faithful servant. You too, sit among the ladies with the crown of rubies.