Just a day after Christmas, a community in Forsyth County known for its lights and holiday spirit lost one of their most steadfast champions.
Shawn Bennett Tucker, a 49-year-old resident of the Ashebrooke Subdivision and pillar of the subdivision’s annual “Night of Lights” event, passed away in his sleep on Dec. 26, residents say.
According to family and friends, Tucker lived a life of friendship and service, helping anyone that needed it and always striving to make a positive impact on his community.
"He did everything he could to always help out," Jason Tucker, Shawn’s younger brother, said on Tuesday. "His No. 1 goal was to always make sure people had what they needed, were happy."
Jason said that his brother’s “helpful spirit” shone throughout his life, from their childhood in Orlando, Florida, to Florida State University where all of the Tucker brothers attended college, years of teaching English in Korea with his wife, Sydney, after college, and finally to Forsyth County, where Tucker settled and started his family.
Tucker said that his brother was absolutely tenacious when it came to projects and goals. Once, Shawn painstakingly rebuilt an antique tractor with his 13-year-old son, Ryan, so that they could ride it in the annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade and during other events in the Ashebrooke community.
"Once he got started with a project, it was really difficult for him to focus on or do anything else," Jason said. "There were countless neighbors at the service [Monday] that came up and told stories about how he was always there."
Richard Sheffield, a close friend and neighbor of Shawn, said that the 49-year-old was “the quintessential neighbor,” ready to help anyone with anything with little to no questions asked.
“It was that type of behavior that sort of endeared him to all of us,” Sheffield said. “It wasn't just that he was a good neighbor in a neighborhood full of good neighbors, but it was that he was somebody who was always the first to volunteer and would always be there to help with whatever you needed.”
Sheffield added, "Everyone has a story about Shawn Tucker helping them in some way.”
Each year, Shawn, Sheffield and dozens of other neighborhood volunteers would participate in the “Night of Lights,” where thousands of people from Forsyth County and the North Georgia area are invited to drive through Ashebrooke to see more than 300 homes with elaborate Christmas lights and displays.
Following Shawn’s death, the local community has come together to assist his family in their time of loss. A GoFundMe page started in Tucker’s honor has raised more than $16,000 for his family, along with hundreds of prayers and condolences from people across the state.
Mark Pritz, another friend and neighbor, said Thursday that no one is surprised at how the community responded to Shawn’s death. It’s exactly what they would have expected from their friend if the situation was reversed, he said.
Pritz said he has fond memories of watching college football games with Shawn and working with him to pull off the live nativity scene during the “Night of Lights.”
His friend’s death leaves a huge hole in their community.
"He was just a good guy and he touched a lot of people in different ways,” Pritz said. “He was always putting other people first … We’re going to miss him.”
Tucker is survived by his wife, son, daughter and many other family members. A visitation service was held for him on Monday, Dec. 30.
According to an obituary for Tucker by McDonald and Son Funeral Home in Cumming, in lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Forsyth County Humane Society.
To make a donation to the GoFundMe in Tucker’s honor, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/shawn-tucker-memorial-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet.