How to help
In lieu of flowers, a trust fund has been set up for Pattillo’s children at Community Bank and Trust. Contact Jessica Siskey at 770-287-3900.
Bicycling safety tips
Use proper cycling equipment, such as a helmet, headlights and taillights. LED lights are visible from about 300 yards away, and a strobe light can draw more attention to yourself.
Follow road rules, riding single file in the direction of traffic.
Pay attention to the area you’re in, especially side streets, and the drivers as they come within 100 yards of you.
Pick the time of day you cycle carefully, especially around dawn and dusk. Track how much traffic there will be at that time of day.
Kevin Mooney, manager of Bike Town USA on Dawsonville Highway
Thomas Jacob “T.J.” Pattillo had an uplifting glow about him that attracted tons of friends and acquaintances.
Pattillo died Saturday after taking an early morning bike ride with a friend in southern Hall County where they were hit by a car from behind. Pattillo, 31, was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where he died a few hours later.
That’s when an outpouring of community prayers and support began. His Facebook page has received more than 300 posts about memories, pictures and Bible verses since 10 a.m. Saturday, and family friend Brandi Roberts set up a Facebook page in his memory on Monday, which has attracted more than 20 comments.
“In a way, he had this glow about him and was always on the up and up,” said Brian Farrer, head golf coach at Berry College and who knew Pattillo in elementary and middle school in Gainesville. “He would attract people, and the glow was contagious. It was nice and refreshing to have a friend like that. Everybody knew him and knew of him.”
In high school, Pattillo moved to West Hall High School, and Farrer went to North Hall High School, but the two kept in touch from time to time.
“From what I heard and what I’ve seen, he’s been doing so many good things with preaching. You hate to lose anybody, but especially somebody like that in ministry who attracts people and helps them to understand,” Farrer said. “His testimony and what he did while he was here will continue to touch people for many years. His work here isn’t done even though he’s not with us.”
The collision happened on Sloan Mill Road when a car travelling in the same direction hit the cyclists from behind around 7 a.m. His friend had minor injuries.
The Georgia State Patrol is continuing its investigation and released no other details Tuesday. No charges have been filed against the driver.
“He was a good guy — caring — and put everybody else in front of himself,” said Todd Gailey, co-owner of Boost Transport, an agency for Arrow Truck lines, with Pattillo. They were friends for six years and worked together before starting up their own company. “He was ready to go to Heaven when nobody else was ready. He was 120 percent ready and said that all the time.”
Pattillo, born Dec. 29, 1978, was a 1997 graduate of West Hall High School, where he played baseball, basketball and golf.
He was also a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Jennings, La., and married his high school sweetheart Jessica Robb. They have two children — Thomas Jack Pattillo, 9, and Erin Grace Pattillo, 6, who attend the World Language Academy at Chestnut Mountain.
In 2001, he began serving as youth pastor at Hopewell Baptist Church for five years. He and his family became members of Blackshear Place Baptist Church more than a year ago, where he became one of the Bible fellowship class teachers.
“He was a family man and a big Georgia football fan. He actually had plans Saturday to go to the game,” said Kevin Ross, a pastor at Blackshear Place. “He was a great teacher of the Bible and loved the Lord. We recently vacationed at the same place in Myrtle Beach, and he loved the beach and seafood. He organized an outing there because he wanted everybody to get together and hang out.”
The family held visitation at Little & Davenport Funeral Home on Dawsonville Highway on Tuesday, and the funeral is at Hopewell Baptist Church on Poplar Springs Road today at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family set up a trust fund for Thomas and Erin Grace at Community Bank and Trust.
“They’re great people, really like the best people,” said Jessica Siskey, who is handling the fund and worked with Jessica Pattillo at the bank for several years. “I bike as well, and T.J. loved riding his mountain bike. He just got his road bike a few weeks ago, so it’s very, very sad this happened. His youngest daughter had heart trouble when she was young and recovered from that completely, but you would think that would be enough for this family.”
Fit 2 Tri, a local company that supports triathletes, posted about Pattillo on its Facebook page as well. Comments to the family continued to pour in on several webpages through Tuesday evening, and Roberts encouraged people to wear red and black to the funeral today in honor of T.J.’s favorite team — the Georgia Bulldogs.
“It’s a time where we’re having to tell ourselves this is actually happening,” she said. “We’re trying to process and understand what occurred here, which I think is normal when a young person is taken so soon.”
Roberts has seen an outpouring of support for the family in the past few days, and some community members are talking about starting an annual Bike-a-thon to help the family.
“This is going to be a long-term process for the family, and so many couples have really looked up to them as an example because they have an unbelievable amount of love for one another and their children,” she said. “People saw this beautiful family doing so many things right. To see devastation come from an accident is hard to believe and hard to process. People have wondered what they would do if they were left behind to explain to children what the future holds, and there are no answers. Let’s get through today and take on tomorrow.”