The Hall County School District and special education community is mourning the loss of a longtime role model for countless Special Olympic athletes and students in Hall County, after he died of complications of COVID-19 this week.
Scott Crain who served as a special education mentor in the school district and prompted hundreds of local children to get involved in the Special Olympics died Wednesday, July 29, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. He was 59.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Scott Crain,” Hall schools Superintendent Will Schofield said in a statement. “Scott represented everything good in public education and in humanity. His kindness, generosity, optimism and gentle spirit moved (others) to be better, to give a little bit more of themselves to others and to see the unique potential endowed in every individual. Our hearts go out to Scott’s family and friends. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy lives on through the countless lives he influenced.”
Crain, along with his wife Stacey, got involved in special education following the birth of their son Will, a former special education student in the Hall County School District as well as a medalist in the 2015 Special Olympic World Games.
Stacey Crain told The Times her husband’s outgoing and patient nature made him the perfect person to work with special education students.
“He didn’t think they were different,” she said. “He loved them no matter what. He was just a joy to be around.”
She recalled that her husband loved his job with the school district, at one point recently telling her “Stacey, I’m going to work until I’m 80.”
“He was just passionate about what he did,” she said. “It was just that love for others.”
According to Debbie King, a longtime friend of the Crain family and a healthcare science teacher at West Hall High School, Scott Crain focused on getting as many special education students as possible involved in Special Olympics, even helping to establish a Special Olympics kayak team, King said. Whenever an athlete was unable to make it to an event, she said he was always willing to pick them up, no matter how out of the way the trip might be for him.
“He just opened doors for these kids that I don’t know anybody would have thought to open for them,” she said.
King added that Scott Crain was the type of person who “it’s going to take three people to fill the shoes of,” when it comes to his role with HSCD.
Hall County Special Olympics Chair Christopher Badura expressed a similar sentiment.
In Scott Crain's time working with Special Olympics in Hall, the organization tripled its number of registered athletes, according to Badura.
Badura said he will be remembered for the positive impact he made on the community through his roles with HCSD and Hall County Special Olympics, as well as his ministry involvement with Woodlawn Baptist Church, West Hall Baptist Church, Pinecrest Baptist Church and Pleasant Hill Baptist Church — where he most recently served as music minister.
But according to Badura, Scott Crain was never focused on building a legacy. All the service he did for his community came simply from the care he had for those in his life, Badura said.
“He never wanted praise for anything,” he said. “He just did it out of the love that he had for these kids.”
Badura said his fondest memories of Scott Crain were the Sundays following massive Special Olympics events that would sometimes involve coordinating over 100 athletes — getting them to the right events at the right times and making sure everyone made it onto buses and got home safely.
Though the trips were exhausting, Badura said Scott Crain was always smiling and willing to do whatever it might take to make the trips as fun as possible for participating athletes.
“He touched so many kids lives, which touched parents lives,” Badura said. “And that’s something that we’ll never be able to replace.”
In addition to his wife, Scott Crain is survived by his son Will Crain and daughter Claire Crain NeSmith, according to an obituary from the Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory.
According to his obituary, the Gainesville native worked a number of jobs around the area over the years, including at Frierson-McEver Menswear, W.S. Crain’s Menswear, Jim Hardman GMC Car Sales and Riverside Pharmacy before eventually settling in as special education parent mentor for HCSD.
A private family service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1 at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. A graveside service will be held at 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Park Cemetery and is open to those who wish to attend. Social distancing will be observed and masks required at the graveside service.
There will also be a memorial service at the Olympic Rowing Venue Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon. A dragon boat will be put out for anyone to leave flowers or cards inside, and donations for Hall County Special Olympics will also be collected.