In Memory

Gary Eugene Laird

NOVEMBER 9, 1957 - MARCH 6, 2010 

Dr. Gary E. Laird, who was better known simply as Bro. Gary, was received home to be with his Lord suddenly on Saturday, March 6, 2010.  Bro. Gary was born November 9, 1957 in Crestview, FL. He graduated from Milton High School in 1975 and served in the Air Force Reserves for three years. He obtained a degree in Religion and Sociology from Mobile College in 1980, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1983, and a Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1998. He faithfully and joyfully served as Pastor of Avalon Baptist Church in Milton, FL since January 1995. He also thoroughly enjoyed ministering as a chaplain with Covenant Hospice in Pensacola since December 2005. Previously he ministered in various churches in Texas, Alabama, and Florida since 1981. He had a fervent love of God coupled with a strong desire to share this love with the community. His commitment to "be the salt and light" was embodied in his active volunteering with Family Promise of Santa Rosa, the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Santa Rosa Baptist Association, and United Way of Santa Rosa County. In addition, he previously served as a volunteer fire fighter in Gulf Shores, AL and in various leadership roles within the Florida Baptist Convention.  He enjoyed spending time with his family, especially outdoors. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle, camping, and touring Civil War sites. Though not the world's greatest hunter or fisherman, it wasn't the activity so much as sharing the time with those he loved. When not outside he greatly enjoyed reading, playing with computers, and keeping his Wii bowling and golf scores higher than his family's. It was also typical to find Bro. Gary out in the community and to always be greeted with a warm smile, handshake, hug, or usually a combination of all three. His church wasn't just another aspect of his life, it was his life and just as dear to him as his family because it was his family. There was no separation between the two for Bro. Gary. He selflessly loved his congregation, the hospice he ministered at, and the community in which he worked and lived, more so than anything else and it showed. He gave his all for Christ through his ministry and was blessed with everything any person could ever want.  He is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Debbie Howell; three sons, Michael (Christina), Matthew (Ashlee), and Joshua; his parents, Norman and Sue Laird; two sisters, Vickie (Alan) Gosnell and Jill (Jimmie) Hood; and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Friday, March 12, 2010 at Avalon Baptist Church in Milton from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. A celebration of Bro. Gary's life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday March 13, 2010 at Avalon Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Serenity Gardens with Lewis Funeral Home directing.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Avalon Baptist Church, Family Promise of Santa Rosa, Covenant Hospice, or the Gideons International.  Friends may send condolences and share fond memories with the family