Klewitz tribute in Lee County - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Klewitz tribute in Lee County

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June 30, 2007

By: Cade Fowler

Leesburg -- The Winn-Dixie on U.S. 19 in Lee County is without an employee today. The familiar smiling face of Billy Klewitz behind the deli counter now just a memory.

A banner made by co-workers, a ribbon, all symbols of remembrance for a caring co-worker, a loving friend.

Lot's of Tear around Winn-Dixie? "Lot's of tears everywhere," says co-worker Andrew Long. 

In the parking lot, there's a tribute to the ambitious rock star everyone knew as Billy. But on stage he was known as Big Show Smerr, as the writing proclaims on the hot Georgia asphalt just above the rock 'n' roll guitar. 

Flowers grace the shopping carts that serve as symbolic barriers guarding the makeshift memorial that now stands in the Winn-Dixie parking space that once  belonged to 21-year-old Billy Klewitz.  For friends and loved ones, grief and loss are merely understatements.

Tori Oxford says "every time we drove by Winn-Dixie, we would always look to see Billy's car, to see if he was working. It just feels weird coming by here and knowing I'll never see his car again."

Klewitz, who worked at  Winn-Dixie for nearly six and a half years was on his way to pick up his sister Wednesday when tragedy struck. Simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Billy became the innocent victim when an ADDU police pursuit suspect crossed the center line and collided into Billy's car. The accident killed Klewitz.

Just three days after the tragic incident Billy's parents visit his memorial.

Still shocked over the loss of his son, Billy's dad reflects on one of their final conversations.

"He said, don't worry dad, I'll take care of everything. That was his motto. That was on my Father's Day card. That's what he would say to a stranger that needed help," says Bill Klewitz Sr.

A mixture of emotions, some were happy.

He adds, "When he was playing little league football or baseball, he never missed a game. But instead of wanting to know who they were playing, he wanted to know what's the snack? "

But the smiles of happy times gone by are shadowed by the sadness that has sent shock waves through an entire community.

"My hearts filled with Billy and my daughter right now. But I've got room for you all. Thank you," adds Klewitz Sr.

And while Billy meant so much to so many, you can bet if there truly is an angel band, the Big Show Smerr is playing lead guitar.Funeral services will be held Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the First Christian Church on Westover.

Klewitz will be laid to rest at the Leesburg Cemetery.

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