PASCAGOULA -- When Kevin Benefield lost his life on Saturday, he was on his way home from doing something he loved -- supporting his students.
Cal Walters, director of "A Night at the Wax Museum," said Benefield had attended the 2 p.m. performance of the play at Gulfport Little Theatre. Benefield was the voice coach for one of the actors in the play and had previously worked with another actor. Walters said both actors were Benefield's former students.
Benefield, 62, left the performance and died on his way home Saturday evening, when an 18-wheeler that was westbound on I-10 lost control near the Jackson County line, crossed the median and hit him.
Services for Benefield, a resident of Moss Point and longtime music teacher in Jackson County, will be held Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pascagoula.
Benefield taught at Resurrection Catholic High School in Pascagoula, which will let students out for half a day Wednesday for the services.
Visitation will be held from noon to 3 p.m. at the church, and the service will begin at 3 p.m.
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.
"He was a very big part of our school," Beach Elementary principal Shirley Hunter said. "He was a good role model and taught the children to love music. He was part of our family here at Beach. He was an angel among us."
Benefield was "extremely talented" and played music for several local churches, said Laura Hudson, a family friend and teacher at Resurrection Elementary.
But his 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."
The Pascagoula School District sent guidance counselors to Resurrection on Monday to be with the students, District communications director Debbie Anglin said.
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. A medical issue caused Lockhart to lose control of the vehicle. Broadus said he died from the medical issue, and not from injuries sustained in the accident.