JACKSON COUNTY -- A music teacher remembered for his talent and kindness was one of two men killed in a crash on Interstate 10 Saturday night.
Kevin Benefield, a 62-year-old teacher at Resurrection Catholic High School in Pascagoula, died on the scene after an 18-wheeler that was westbound on I-10 lost control near mile-marker 48, and crossed the median where it struck Benefield's eastbound vehicle.
The driver of the 18-wheeler, 59-year-old Donald Lockhart of Louisiana, was also pronounced dead at the scene, Jackson County Coroner Vickie Broadus said.
"He was just a great guy," Dr. Rhonda Clark, associate superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, said of Benefield, adding that he handled all the music at the school's ceremonies. "He was a very talented man, he helped us greatly in our music ministry."
Benefield's wife, Elizabeth, is the principal of Resurrection Catholic Elementary. In addition to his wife, Benefield is survived by four children, Elizabeth, Keenan, Patrick and Steven; and one grandchild.
Before going to work at Resurrection, Kevin Benefield was a teacher at Beach Elementary School in the Pascagoula School District. He retired from there in 2003 after 29 years of working in the district.
Because of his superb musical ability, Benefield's friends said he played organ and piano at churches across the Coast.
"He would play at one church then jump in his car and drive straight to another one," said Laura Hudson, a family friend and teacher at Resurrection Elementary. "He was extremely talented."
But Benefield's talent wasn't his only defining characteristic.
"Kevin was probably the kindest person I've ever met," Hudson said. "If someone was in need, he reached out to help. That's the kind of person he was. He didn't care if you were black, white, rich, poor, gay or straight, he treated everyone with the same kindness and respect."