(WGHP) — For Rocky Smith, Pleasant Garden has always been home. Nestled in southeast Guilford County and peppered with horse farms and nature, the community carries memories from his childhood intertwined with those of his kids’ childhood.
A childhood cut tragically short.
His sons Zachary, 14, and Dylan, 17, were shot and killed by their mom Mary Ann Holder, Rocky’s ex-wife, on November 20, 2011. Holder also shot and killed their cousins Hanaleigh and Ricky Suttles and Dylan’s girlfriend Makayla Woods before turning the gun on herself.
“I ride by the scenes of the tragedies every day,” Smith said. “And for me, I feel like it’s where they were. It’s where they lived, and it’s where they drove.”
More than a decade later, Smith said he chooses to focus on the good.
“If we dwell on the negative all the time, we will be there,” Smith said. “So I think about playing basketball in the yard with the boys and throwing the baseball.”
Smith will never understand the “why” surrounding his sons’ murders, but he shares their story to encourage others. It’s that message of hope he and his wife Gail spread through music and ministry at Kernersville Full Gospel Mission each Sunday.
“I can’t swear to it, but I like to think that because we’re helping, they live on,” Smith said. “By keeping their memories alive and telling people what happened, that maybe it stopped someone else from doing the same thing.”
Smith knows he’s right where he’s supposed to be: surrounded by reminders of his precious children from memories he holds in his heart and those more obvious for all to see.
“When I leave this world, I would like to hope that people say, ‘man, that’s the guy that even though he went through all that stuff, he just kept smiling,” Smith said. “(I’m) trying to be positive to others and encourage them that they can make it.”
Rocky and Gail Smith invite the community to see them sing and share their testimony at two upcoming nights of worship in July:
- July 30th at 6 p.m.: Welcome Home Baptist Church at 5640 Reidsville Road, Belews Creek, NC
- July 31st at 5 p.m.: Calvary Chapel at 2445 Willard Road, Winston-Salem, NC