Lynchburg, VA- Hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of Dr. Garnell Stamps in Lynchburg Friday afternoon. The local civil rights leader died last week from heart problems. Friday folks from all over came to Tree of Life Ministries in Lynchburg for his funeral. Stamps was a Lynchburg City School teacher who became an activist during the civil rights movement.
He is widely recognized as a local figure that helped move the city away from segregation. He is also remembered by most as a dear friend.
Friends and family gathered to remember the life of a man they call a hero.
"Dr. Stamps challenged the status quo, not just for the sake of challenge but to change laws and hearts and to help make it possible for all people to take part in the American dream," said Ceasor Johnson, Vice Mayor of Lynchburg.
With songs pouring from their hearts and deep within their souls, they came to remember a man who touched their lives in so many ways. Longtime friend and colleague the Reverend James Coleman read letters from those who couldn't be at the service. People like Governor McAuliffe, and former Governor Douglas Wilder sent their regards. The Reverend Al Sharpton even called in during the service and shared how much Stamps meant to him.
"No one was more passionate, no one was more committed than he was," said Sharpton on the phone.
For many Stamps was a mentor, friend, and inspiration.
"If I can help somebody along my way, then my living has not been in vain, that describes Garnell Stamps," said Walter Fore who was a friend of Stamps.
As many gave tribute, Former Governor Wilder's words expressed a common theme in the service: Garnell Stamps has left his mark in history.
We should dedicate ourselves by filling the void left by him. He will not nor can be replaced, " wrote Wilder.
Stamps was laid to rest at Forest Hills Cemetery in Lynchburg. That interment was followed by a celebration dinner.