What sadness we feel as we have learned of the tragic death of Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) advocate Katy McGehee.
Katy was found dead in her Manteca, California home on Monday of this week; her son, Dawson McGehee was arrested in connection with her death several hours later. Katy’s husband, Thom, was in China on business and returned home on Tuesday. Three other adult children, Justin, Colin and Katelyn, also survive their mother.
A member of the Stockton (California) Covenant Church, Katy served many people using her gifts of compassion, listening and comfort. She received AVA training from Pacific Southwest Conference Regional Coordinator Kathy Melton and became a local advocate in 2010. At the Women Ministries Mission Springs weekend retreat in September, Katy was formally commissioned as a local AVA advocate along with three other women, including her good friend, Susan White, also of Stockton Covenant.
Though reluctant to commit to AVA initially, once Katy took the training, she came to believe she was called by God to minister to the hurting. Those who received support from Katy said “She had a heart for listening.”
At the time of her death, Katy was taking the next level of Domestic Violence prevention training at a local center. Her desire to learn more and to grow as an advocate provide an encouraging example to us all of a life lived to help those on the margins.
A consummate care-giver, Katy was known for doing much to serve others. She was active in Women’s Bible studies at her church and led co-ed groups with Thom. Katy’s passion to stand with those who have experienced abuse spurs all of us on to step in to the difficult places where we can help the hurting. Our hearts go out to her husband, Thom and her children. We will be praying for all of them as they deal with this tragedy.
With denominational AVA director, Yvonne DeVaughn, it was my privilege to participate in the commissioning service that affirmed Katy, Sharon, two other AVA advocates and one ministry coach. As we set these women apart for these vital volunteer ministries, we encouraged them with the words of II Timothy 1:3-7, urging them to “fan into flame the gift God gave…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
May we each take inspiration from Katy’s life, knowing that while hers is ended, we still have the privilege of working to eliminate abuse, trafficking, hunger and so much more. Her life verse, Micah 6:8 can be ours: “He has showed you, O woman, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you: To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Katy, you will be missed, but we are grateful for the mark of inspiration you’ve left us. Peace be to your memory.
Note: Services for Katy McGehee will be held Saturday, November 12, 11:00am at Calvary Community Church, 815 W. Lathrop Road, Manteca, California.