Horry County School Board Chairman Joe Defeo dies after suffering 'cardiac event'

Updated: May. 3, 2018 at 11:40 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County School Board Chairman Joe Defeo, who has served with the board for more than decade, died Thursday night.

Dr. Rick Maxey, the superintendent for Horry County Schools, said in a statement that Defeo suffered a "cardiac event" at the age of 65.

"The HCS Board of Education and school administration mourns the loss of a great community leader and friend," Maxey said in his statement. "May God comfort his fiancée,' Sandra, and his family and friends through this incredibly difficult time."

Fellow HCS board members were in shock over the news that Defeo died. They spoke Thursday night about the type of man he was and what they'll remember most about him.

"(His) legacy with Horry County Schools was certainly one of his strengths and his desire to serve the public and his desire to help the children of Horry County," said District 3 board member Ray Winters.

District 9 school board member Chris Hardwick said the news not only shocked him, but devastated him as well.

"My heart just goes out to his family, friends and many constituents," Hardwick said. "My heart just goes out to him deeply."

David Cox, school board member for District 4, said everything Defeo was involved in he was passionate about, whether it was running his karaoke business or working on computers, or serving as HCS's chairman.

"I just can't believe it," Cox said about the news of Defeo's passing.

According to information on the HCS website, Defeo was first elected to represent District 3 in 2006. He was in his second term as the chairman of the Horry County Board of Education.

Defeo was a native of Philadelphia, Penn., and a former New Jersey police officer. He first moved to Myrtle Beach 35 years ago.

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