On Sunday, family, friends, co-workers, Grambling State University employees and retirees, and others showed up to pay their respects to Gerald Emil Mattox.The homegoing celebration and thanksgiving for Mattox was held at St. Rest Baptist Church in Choudrant.
Music was provided by a community choir who sang uplifting, lively selections such as “I Want to See Him,” “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hands,” “I Feel Like Giving God the Glory” and “Soon and Very Soon.” The choir was directed by Ricky Davis.
The master of ceremony was Steve Cooper, known by his radio personality, Super Cooper.
Cooper said, “There is hope. There is life after death. Gerald was full of love. Many times we do not think of all the things we need to say until a moment like this.”
After the first musical selection, Minister Clifton Dailey read scriptures from the Old (Genesis 2: 15-17) and New (John 11: 23-26) Testaments. Then Mattox’s brother, Chris, sang “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Many people remembered Mattox as a quiet, easygoing man. His supervisor and friend of many years, Brenda Williams, was one of them.
“Gerald was calm, quiet, and real respectful. Everybody loved him, and he will forever be in our hearts,” said Williams, who worked with Mattox at Aramark, located in GSU’s McCall Dining Hall.
Her expressions were followed by those of his friend, Wayne Mardis, who said that trying to get Mattox to say more than three words was a test.
“When Gerald did speak, it was in everybody’s best interest to listen because he didn’t speak often. To my friend, Gerald, I am not saying ‘goodbye.’ I am saying, ‘I will see you later.'”
Next Joyce Evans spoke. She said, “While some of us say that Gerald should have been here a little while longer, let’s just be grateful for the time we had. That child was good to me.”
She described Mattox as a gentle, sweet soul who always wore a smile. She said he was one of the finest people she ever met at Grambling.
Evans said that although Mattox was not famous, a president of some organization, a doctor or this or that, “it surely seemed liked it.”
Evans is the general manager of GSU’s radio station, KGRM. She told his parents, “You ought to be proud of the way he carried himself.”
This was reiterated by Minister J.W. Braggs, who said, “I want to say to Mr. and Mrs. Mattox, job well done. You have such good children.”
Before he was employed at GSU, Mattox received training at Grambling Evaluation Training Center Social Services with Vocation Rehabilitation.
J.D. Lewis, who supervised this facility, asked fellow employee Hazel Hunter to join him at the podium as he reflected on their time with Mattox.
Lewis said, “He was just a sweet young soul, a blessing. If he didn’t like what he heard, he would give you a little bow. If he liked what he heard, he would smile,” said Lewis.
Many who knew Mattox shook their head in agreement, and some even laughed.
Lewis had the audience chuckling when he told how Mattox helped him to break up a fight.
Mattox suggested that Lewis hit a wasp nest that was located over the area where the fight was taking place.
He asked Mattox how he knew this would work to which Mattox replied, “Everybody is afraid of wasps.”
Another one of Mattox’s brothers, James, sang a heartwarming rendition of “Precious Lord” that left many teary eyed. Cozzetta Wade sang an uplifting version of “I Won’t Complain.”
The eulogy was given by St. Rest’s pastor, Robert B. Simmons. His sermon was entitled “A Race to Run.”
He said the race is sometimes a journey that can take a long time to complete. “In a race there is a starting and finishing line,” said Simmons.
He said God has a perspective on our lives that we do not have: “Not only does God give us a heads up on running this race called life, He gives us history so that we can be encouraged to keep running. You have to learn to jump over hurdles and keep on running.