Local News

Uncle: Remember Dwayne Council's life as a celebration 'Life is too short for all the violence'

AVON PARK - Back when Dwayne Council Jr., 21, attended Avon Park High School, a group of friends lunched on Fridays at Yums, a Chinese restaurant in the shopping center next to Publix Supermarket.

"He would try to talk to the Chinese people and order his food and say it like was on the menu," his classmate and cousin, Wilneisha Gamage, smiled. "He couldn't get it correct, but he tried."

She was part of an overflow crowd for Council's funeral Saturday morning at Union Congregational Church, which seats 750.

Council was shot a week ago near Memorial Field, east of downtown. Police are still investigating the cause, but no one has been arrested.

"I won't try to figure it out," Gamage added. "He was a good person. He was good and caring. And he made you laugh. That was the biggest thing."

The Council family are members of the Vision Community Church, where Dwayne Jr. played the drums, but funeral directors said it wouldn't have handled the expected crowd, so services were moved to one of the city's largest. Even then, some had to go next door to an older chapel, where they could watch on closed circuit TV.

As the choir began to sing 15 minutes before the service started, it became clear not only that the church would fill, but that the crowd would cut across racial, social and generational lines. Attendees were white and black, ordinary and affluent, young and elderly.

"He was the class clown, said Jelisa Matthews, who pinned a red paper "10" on her classmates, representing their class Class of 2010, who voted Council "Most Athletic."

She pointed to a section on the church's south side. "We're sitting over there. There's a lot of us here. A lot."

Her favorite memory: "He would imitate anybody, from the president to Jay-Z to his daddy. Just walking down the road, he'd say," and Matthews threw her voice deeper and gruffer to portray Dwayne Council Sr., "Hey. You there. Come here. Where are you going?"

Council's father was a Red Devils football and weight lifting coach. The younger Council was born in Fitchburg, Mass., and worked security at Avon Park Youth Academy.

"He was a great athlete," said Romeo Dunn, 17, whose best friend is Dwayne's brother, Charles Council.

"He always put a smile on your face," said Asiavekia Wright. "I was the big sister to them all. He was always over at my house."

"He loved to eat," said Shirley McCauley, who Council called "Grandma."

"He would come over and want me to cook for him," she said. His favorite dish at her house: oxtail soup and collard greens. Her grandson is Avierre Conner, now in the Coast Guard Academy, whom Council counted among his best friends.

"I'm going to break down," said his uncle, Reggie Knighten, who offered the first prayer of the services, "just to let you know.

"Carry on his legacy as you build your own," he advised young people. "Lord, I don't know what you had planned. But I know we need to make a change, not only in this town and this community, but in this world.

"Life is too short for all the violence," his voice rose. "God help us all to get through this. Lets's turn this into a celebration."

Survivors include Council's daughter, Jordyn; five brothers and sisters, Adrian. Erika, Khadija, Charles and Adarius; and his parents, Dwayne and Jeanine.