A memorial celebration for Sonny Lee Searles, age 62, who died suddenly on April 13, 2012, will be held Thursday (April 26, 2012) at 12:00 noon at Tomoka Christian Church, 1151 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach. Friends wishing to call and pay their respects may do so Wednesday from 6:00 until 8:00 pm at Dale Woodward Funeral Home, 167 Ridgewood Ave. Holly Hill. He was well known in the community and throughout the state as a kind and giving person who devoted his life to the Deaf Community and to making their lives better. He was a humble man who could never understand why everyone liked him so much but he knew that his purpose in life was to help others. His smile and laugh could light up a room, and those who met him never forgot him. Sonny was a mentor to many whether it was for sign language interpreting for students as well as experienced interpreters, motorcycle riding, or life's lessons in general. A native of Omaha, Sonny moved to Florida in the early 1980s and became a valued asset everywhere he worked. He served with Deaf Service Center of West Central Florida, United Hearing & Deaf Services, Inc., Briarwood Center for Independent Living, Daytona Beach Community College, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services and Sorenson Video Relay Services. Since August 2005, Sonny has been the president and sole owner of SLS Interpreting Services, Inc. He has been a productive member and affiliated with RID, FRID, VoFRID, State of Florida QA Testing Panel, SLIP at Daytona Community College and ABATE. Sonny received the Interpreter of the Year Award in 1989 from The Deaf Community of the Big Sun Region and in 2000 a Distinguished Service Award from Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services. He was predeceased by his wife, Kimberly, who died on April 19, 2008 and was the love of his life. Survivors include a daughter, Christy Gantt (Lauren, Aubree), Louisburg, KS; a son, Scott Ford, Liberty, MO; his sisters, Peggy Searles (Rusty), Gardner, KS and Joann Steele, Kenosha, WI; best friends Debbie & Mitch Smith of Ormond Beach, and more importantly his loving companions Zoe, Xena, and Baby Girl. The list of friends who will be affected by his loss is endless, and the world will be a different place without him. In lieu of other remembrances donations may be made to the Greater Daytona Beach Association of the Deaf at www.gdbad.org; Daytona Beach ABATE at PO Box 263198, Daytona Beach, FL 32126; Halifax Humane Society, 2364 LPGA Blvd. Daytona Beach, FL 32124 or an animal shelter of your choice. Condolences may be shared at www.dalewoodwardfuneralhomes.com
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Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal from Apr. 22 to Apr. 23, 2012