Joe Defeo's 'biggest passion' was school board, according to brother

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County community is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Joe Defeo, the man best known for serving as the chairman of the Horry County School Board, passed away Thursday at the age of 65.

While Defeo's work with the school board is what local residents best know him for, his family said it was just one of his many accomplishments.

"I think Joe's had an impact on most everything we've done our whole lives," said his brother, Jim Defeo. "He was a police officer in North Wildwood, N.J., he and I were both beach lifeguards in Wildwood Crest, N. J. He was very patient about aviation, he was a certified pilot instructor and he was also a certified instructor for FAA. The FAA would call him to do inspections on various planes and what not."

Joe and Jim Defeo were also business partners for 30 years.

"As partners in the computer business, he did all the hard work - networking - and I took care of the software," Defeo said. "In 30 years, he never had a thing he couldn't fix."

He said Joe also did a lot of work with youth athletics.

"I think he elevated that when he became a member of the school board. I think his biggest passion recently was with the school board," said Defeo. "I think he was very proud he and the entire school board built these new schools for hundreds of millions. Didn't have to borrow a dime."

The school board has canceled their Monday meeting out of respect for Joe Defeo.

"What else could you do but try to comfort each other?" Jim Defeo said. "It's just very heartwarming to truly know how many people are going to miss him and just loved him so much."

Joe Defeo is also survived by his sister, fiance, and three children.

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