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Family remembers slain Longview man at memorial service

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Dec. 24, 2012 at 11 p.m.


GILMER - Family, friends and Mormon church elders gathered on Christmas Eve at a memorial service for Ronnie Joe Gammage at Croley Funeral Home.

Gammage, 27, was killed Dec. 5, and was reported missing by his mother, Frankie Ann Gammage, on Dec. 8. However, his body was not discovered until Dec. 19.

"He met death far too early," said H. Deloyd Bailey, who conducted the service. "He was preceded in death by his father, but leaves behind to cherish his memory his mother, brothers, sister and many other family members."

Gammage, who stood 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed about 265 pounds, was functional but mentally slow, his family said. He lived by himself in Parkway Gardens apartments in Longview, drew disability payments and lived a simple life.

Karl D. Jenkins, who gave the eulogy, said that Gammage had been a happy child who loved to spend time with his father, especially on fishing trips. He also enjoyed singing, dancing and dressing in western clothes.

"No doubt he and his father are planning a fishing trip together, now that, they've been reunited," Jenkins said.

Gammage never met a stranger and didn't have a mean bone in his body, Jenkins said. He loved his mother and spoke with her daily, either in person or on the phone.

"He did nothing to deserve the evil that came upon him at the end of life," Jenkins said. "I doubt he was scared, even at the end; probably just bewildered that those he considered friends would betray him in such a wicked way."

Gaye Bailey said she can't fathom Frankie Gammage's pain in losing a child, but that Jesus could understand her sorrow and was taking care of him. She shared several memories of Ronnie Gammage.

"He used to come over and help us with yard work and he was strong enough to lift tractor parts by himself. He was also a terrific dancer. I remember one time when I brought a pumpkin pie over to his family's house and he sat down and began eating it with a big smile on his face," Bailey said. "It felt good to make him happy, because he was such a sweet person."

Gammage's beaten, burned body was found late on Dec. 19 in rural Upshur County.

On Dec. 20, Sarah Haslam, 20, and Daniel Jones, 19, both of Longview, were charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder in connection with Gammage's death. A third capital murder warrant was issued for an unidentified person whom police say also played a role in Gammage's death.

Haslam and Jones remain in the Gregg County Jail on bonds of $1.3 million.

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