Kobe Bradshaw’s grave-side service
Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church for the grave-side service of Kobe Jeremiah Bradshaw, before mourners arrived on June 5, 2021. [Jennifer Hunt Murty, Ocala Gazette]
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More than 200 mourners gathered at the historically black cemetery at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church for the grave-side service of Kobe Jeremiah Bradshaw, who died on June 5, 2021, at 18 years of age from a gunshot wound.
The crowd gathered around a tent where the coffin lay open, with surrounded by 30 or so chairs so his family members could sit. The crowd shuffled to find patches of shade under old live oaks, standing among the old tombstones. Those who came prepared opened their umbrellas.
The only sound as the crowd found their places was of insects buzzing from the midday sun, but as the family approached the tent, the sound of insects stopped as if they knew they needed to give way for the wailing of one elderly female family member.
She cried repeatedly through tears, “Lord, help me, Jesus. Help me!” Her plaintive pleas went on for at least 15 minutes as family members stopped at the casket to touch Kobe one last time. Eventually, the family huddled around Kobe for one last photograph with him.
Rev. Eric Cummings Sr. of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church asked for the group to give respect to the program carefully considered by the decedent’s family. And for almost an hour, the entire crowd stood and listened.
There were only a handful of children under the age of 10 in attendance, but many young adults. Everyone who attended was Black.
A Marion County Sheriff’s Office patrol car was parked at the cemetery, about 100 yards from the funeral tent. I could not see how many occupants were in the vehicle.
Albert Tuggerson sang “It’ll be all Over in the Morning” a capella as a prelude to Rev. Jason Sims, pastor of the church, preaching a sermon based on Psalms 30.
The gist of the sermon was that God works the night shift and never grows tired. So, while you may find yourself wary and crying, joy will come in the morning because God worked the night shift. That we should take comfort that the night is “temporary, tabulated, and therapeutic.” We come out better from the night because God used time to shape us, he offered.
One young man left before the sermon was done, driving away from the cemetery with music thumping as loudly as it had been when he had pulled in before the service started. Everyone acted as if they did not hear it.
After the service, the casket was opened again so mourners could say goodbye as they quietly walked back to their cars. Some leaned on each other for support.
The program said Kobe was born on Oct. 14, 2002. He attended Fessenden Elementary School, North Marion Middle and High schools, and West Port High School.
Kobe was baptized on March 24, 2013, and attended the church that is home to the cemetery in which he was now being buried. He enjoyed playing drums and was the church drummer for many years.
While growing up, Kobe played in the Marion County Youth Football League for the Jaguars, Ocala Pride, and also on the NMHS Junior and Senior Colts and WPHS Wolfpack teams.
He leaves behind his parents, Saundra Lewis Bradshaw and Kevin Bradshaw Sr., three brothers, Kevin Bradshaw Jr., Kevon Bradshaw and Caleb Schroeder, and one sister, Jada Schroeder, as well as many aunts, uncles, and extended family members.