‘We're gonna keep this light burning': Funeral held for Henry mother, son

‘We're gonna keep this light burning': Funeral held for Henry mother, son

Johnny and Kathie White listen during the funeral service for their daughter Sandra White and her son Arkeyvion White at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church. (Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — The photos told the story of a mother and her son. A smiling, little boy who grew to 6-feet-4 as a 16-year-old, towering over his mom and best friend.

Then there was an ultrasound photo, a black-and-white image of a boy whose life never had the chance to begin.

As "A Song for Mama" played, the photos of Sandra and Arkeyvion White were shown to hundreds inside an Atlanta church Saturday afternoon. Family, friends and even some who didn't know the family gathered to say goodbye to three whose lives were taken abruptly by domestic violence.

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“San” was due to deliver a baby she’d named Antonio later this month. But on April 4, her boyfriend shot and killed her and then her teen son inside their Henry County home, according to police. Anthony Bailey, White’s boyfriend, then killed himself.

But on Saturday, the focus was on how the mother and son lived, including the dreams cut short. Three caskets, including a small one for Antonio, were adorned with flowers inside Mount Carmel Baptist Church. She was a nurse who thrived on helping patients and planned to continue her education and become a nurse practitioner.

“Keyvie” was a polite teenager who did well in school and was athletically gifted. Little Antonio never had the chance to live, but was already loved. It was an emotional service filled with tears, music and laughter as those closest to the mother and son shared memories.

“We’re gonna keep this light burning, not just today but every day,” said Audrey Moore, one of Sandra White’s high school classmates.

White attended Atlanta Public Schools and graduated from Carver High School in 1997. She later studied at Flint River Technical College in Thomaston and then Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Alabama. White’s career began at the Fulton County jail before she switched to hospitals, working at Grady Memorial, Piedmont, Emory and finally WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, according to her obituary.

Many of her high school classmates attended Saturday’s funeral, with one row of women wearing purple T-shirts that read “Take Your Power Back” on the back: a message against domestic violence.

Arkeyvion was born in Thomaston before moving to Atlanta, where he also attended Atlanta Public Schools before moving with his mother to Stockbridge. He was a sophomore at Dutchtown High School, where teachers recognized him as polite and studious. A gentle “teddy bear” was the way one teacher described him.

“He was a good person and a good student-athlete,” Dutchtown Principal Nicole Shaw said Saturday.

But there was nothing gentle about Arkeyvion on the football field, Coach Clifford Fred said.

“We called him ‘Big White,’” Fred said.Arkeyvion was fierce, but had yet to reach up to his potential on the field. He had already accomplished a great deal, refusing to let asthma stop him.

“He faced it. He overcame it,” the Rev. David Bowie said. “We’ll think of him every time we watch a football game.”

Dozens of boys wearing Dutchtown jerseys attended the funeral, along with several players from Henry County High School.

“I never met him. But I wanted to pay my respects,” a Henry County player said after the service.Interment followed at Forest Lawn Cemetery in College Park.