Family and friends gathered Thursday afternoon to remember and celebrate the life of Rebecca Dates, 36, whose life was cut short when her vehicle was struck in a three-car crash last month in Liberty County. Her early morning routine was simple, to drop off her children at a friend’s home before she reported for work as a paraprofessional at Frank Long Elementary School in Hinesville. Her four children were in the car with her, and one of her daughters sustained serious injuries.
About 75 of her closest friends and family gathered at the Shuman Recreation Center in Hinesville to take part in the celebration of Dates’ life. The group who organized Thursday’s celebration dressed the center’s gym in a Mardi Gras theme, one of Dates’ favorite time of the year, they said.
“I remember her smile, her laughter, her sense of humor. No one could be in a bad mood around her. She made a friend everywhere she went,” Jamie Redding said of Dates. Redding told the Courier she and Dates became friends in 2010, when Dates moved to Liberty County. As Redding gazed at a photographic collage of Dates, she commented that her late friend was smiling in every photo. “There’s nothing that Becky did that she didn’t bring joy to.”
Tears flowed freely from many of those who attended including three of her four children who were released from the hospital last week. Dates’14-year old daughter is still at Memorial Hospital in Savannah recovering from her injuries. Another of Dates’ daughters was using a crutch to get around during the memorial service.
Dates was born in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., according to her obituary. She attended the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) High School, going on to graduate from Johnson & Whales University with an Associate’s Degree. She continued her education at the University of Phoenix earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice. The week before her fatal accident, Dates had taken the Georgia state exam to become certified as a teacher.
“The entire Liberty County School System extends our deepest sympathy to the family of the late Ms. Rebecca Dates,” Dr. Patti Crane, LCSS Chief Academic Officer, told the Courier following the accident. “Her dedication and commitment made her an integral part of the school and the community. Counselors have been and will continue to be available to those impacted by this tragic loss.”
A video of the Celebration of Life service will soon be posted to the Courier website.