Jason McCorkle was the kind of person everybody enjoyed being around because of his personality.
He had what many called a "terrific" sense of humor. He enjoyed spending time with his friends, as well as hunting, fishing and playing golf. He even loved working at his parents' business, Interstate Equipment Co. Inc., located near Thomson at I-20.
In the words of one of his best friends, Jamie Alfriend, Jason McCorkle was full of life.
The life of the 23-year-old Mr. McCorkle was cut short on Monday, July 5, 2010 when he was killed in a liquified propane pipeline explosion on McCorkle Farm, located in the 300 block of Stagecoach Road in McDuffie County. His father, Paul McCorkle, who serves as a member of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners, was injured in that mishap.
A standing-room-only crowd gathered at First United Methodist Church in Thomson to pay last respects to Jason McCorkle last Thursday. Burial was in Savannah Memorial Gardens just outside Thomson.
"It's evident by your presence here today that all of you know Jason loved you and that you loved him," said Mr. Alfriend to those attending the funeral service at the church. "He was easy to love because you knew he truly cared about you. He always enjoyed being in your company and we always enjoyed being with him."
Mr. Alfriend found it difficult to describe his friend.
"You can't," he said. "He was just Jason. There wasn't anything in the world he wouldn't do for you -- literally. He almost took pride in being able to be the one to help you. And stubborn, you need not think you could change his mind when he already had it made up. He loved life. He was just as happy on a Friday night cooking a steak with just him and Jon as he was at the Theta Chi House in Athens on a game day."
Jon was Jason's older brother.
Jason McCorkle shared a special bond between his family and friends.
That special bond was unconditional love, Mr. Alfriend said, noting that he and Jason bonded for a variety of reasons.
"Probably what brought us together as much as anything was our love for the outdoors and passion for hunting," Mr. Alfriend explained. "For you unfortunate souls who have never experienced a crisp, cool morning in the turkey woods, it's almost a religious experience. Day breaking, birds chirping and turkeys gobbling -- it doesn't get any better than that."
Such was especially true when they hunted turkey together.
"I'm gonna miss that little smirk on his face when he'd make one gobble," Mr. Alfriend said.
During the past few months, the McCorkle brothers fell in love with the game of golf, he pointed out.
"Matter of fact, recently I think Uncle Sammy was short-handed bailing hay, because these two skipped out to the golf course," Mr. Alfriend said. "Anyway, he was playing on July Fourth and had a hole-in-one on No. 9 at Belle Meade. I'm proud of him for doing it, but still a little ticked off he didn't call me and tell me his own glorified version of what happened."
Mr. Alfriend also talked about his friend's love for children.
"Every time he walked in my house, my daughter, Emma Kate, would not leave him alone," he said. "Both of my kids gravitated towards him, and he loved every minute."
Just before Mr. McCorkle's death, he ate with Mr. Alfriend and his family.
"He had Emma Kate so wound up, I had to run him out of there," Mr. Alfriend added. "He'd always bring by Christmas presents for the kids, and he didn't have to do that. That's just who he was."
Mr. Alfriend called Mr. McCorkle a hunter, a fisherman and self-proclaimed A-1 mechanic.
"According to him, he could run any piece of equipment with his eyes closed," Mr. Alfriend said. "He was a son; he was brother and perhaps most importantly, he was a friend to everyone in this sanctuary. He was my friend, my buddy and I'm gonna miss him to no end."
For several years, Mr. McCorkle drove a tractor that pulled wagons on the opening day of the Belle Meade Fox Hunt.
In closing remarks, Mr. Alfriend offered comfort to his friend's parents, Paul and Bonnie McCorkle, his brother, Jon and other family members, as well as others attending by emphasizing the following:
"We ... are going to be OK," Mr. Alfriend said. "It's not I'm gonna be OK. It's not you're gonna be OK. It's not Jon's gonna be OK. It's not Paul and Bonnie are gonna be OK. We, as a group, as a family, as a community are gonna be OK, because we're all in this together. We are gonna grieve together. We are gonna cry together. We are gonna laugh together. We are gonna pray together and we're gonna get through this together. We're gonna miss him for the rest of our lives and probably won't fully ever get over what happened, but we will get through it. But he wouldn't have it any other way."
Brian Finnerty, of Thomson, another cfriend of Mr. McCorkle, also spoke at the funeral.
Mr. Finnerty said his friend had the gift of exaggeration, noting he could make any little fish that he had caught twice as big as they actually were in telling his fish story.
The Rev. John Barnes, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Thomson spoke about God's love, loss and questions without answers, referring to Psalm 131 and the Book of Job.
"We wonder, 'Why Lord? Why can't things have been different? Why couldn't Paul have been working in a different place? Why couldn't Jason have been somewhere else? And some say, 'I don't know why. I don't understand why.'"
The Rev. Barnes said Psalm 131, in some ways, is like the Book of Job.
"In Job, terrible things happen to Job and his family," the Rev. Barnes said. "And all Job wants is an opportunity to stand before God and say, 'I didn't deserve this. This isn't fair.' And finally comes God on the scene and Job gets to ask his questions. And at the end of his time with God, Job's questions are answered."
Lorenzo Heggs, a security officer at Thomson High School, was one of many who attended the funeral services.
Mr. Heggs called Mr. McCorkle a "fine young man."
The two first became friends when Mr. McCorkle attended the high school his junior year.
"He was different than a lot of the students," Mr. Heggs said. "He always dressed neatly. And he liked wearing his blue jeans and boots."
In addition, he also liked driving a diesel pickup truck.
"He talked about working at his dad's business and how much he enjoyed it," Mr. Heggs said. "He was an exceptional young man and we're all going to miss him very much."