'He would stand up for anything:' Dozens gather to remember Joe Defeo

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Dozens of people gathered at the Trinity Church on Wednesday to say goodbye to Joe Defeo.

The Horry County School Board chairman died last week after suffering a heart attack.

Defeo was a man with many passions. Those who knew him say he loved aviation, computer science and, of course, serving on the school board.

Still, they say his biggest passion was his family.

"The greatest love that he has is family and his family," said his oldest daughter, Megan Defeo.

His youngest daughter, Susannah Gilbert, agrees.

"I don't know how he balanced everything but he did, and he always had a lot of time for us kids and my mom growing up," she said.

His friends say they'll remember Defeo as a jokester.

"Joe would not want us to … well … Joe wouldn't mind if we mourned a little, let's be honest," joked school board member David Cox. "But Joe would want us to rejoice in the fact that he's gone home. And I will miss him terribly because we spoke daily, and he was probably my best friend."

Friends and family all say he was never afraid to speak his mind.

"No one he interacted with was too small, but you know he was comfortable to rub elbows with someone who was big. He wasn't nervous to tell you what you thought or be honest," said Megan Defeo.

"He wasn't afraid of what people thought. He would stand up for anything and do anything for anyone. Even though he was more conservative, he would stand up for people on the left side whenever they were getting bullied. So he just really wanted to make sure everyone had a fair shot," said Gilbert

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