Crowd Recalls Life of Friend, Brother, Father; the Former Florida State University Star Quarterback Inspired Many

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

More than a thousand people gathered at Episcopal High School on Saturday to honor the memory of and give thanks for the life of Gary C. Pajcic.

The former football star who used the fruits of his successful law practice to help others from his boyhood, blue-collar neighborhood, died Wednesday of a rare form of viral encephalitis, diagnosed after a sudden seizure at his summer home in Amelia Island on July 30.

Every seat in the theater of the Munnerlyn Center for Worship and Fine Arts was filled and an overflow crowd of mourners watched the service on closed-circuit television in the center's Mary Lou Davis Chapel.

In recognition of his days as the star quarterback for Florida State University, four people who work at the Pajcic & Pajcic Law Firm wore FSU football jerseys bearing the number 16, the number Pajcic wore in the late 1960s.

Three of Pajcic's true legacy -- his five children -- shared anecdotes of the life they shared with their father and told how his passions were golf, boiled peanuts, chewing tobacco and his family.

"Dad encouraged us to work hard, dream big and stay positive," Seth Pajcic said.

While much has been written about his father's philanthropy to help public school students in his old Woodstock Park neighborhood, many people do not know that Pajcic coached every one of his five children as they attended Episcopal High School -- football for the four boys and golf for daughter Shaara.

Seth Pajcic recounted a time when the Episcopal team was 0-7 for the season and was to play football powerhouse Keystone Heights.

"We've got a chance, boys, we've got a chance," he said his father yelled. "Then he got a big bucket of mud and threw it all over the players."

Episcopal lost the game, 70-0, he said "but at least we looked like football players."

Curry Pajcic, another son, shared how his father told his boys -- long before the bracelets and bumper stickers became popular -- to do what Jesus would do.

"Laughter and competition were the centers of his life," Curry Pajcic said. "He built up memories that money can't buy. He stored his treasures in his heart."

In sports, his father told them to win graciously, lose with dignity and always shake hands when the game is over.

Drawing laughs from the audience, Curry Pajcic said, "Dad was color blind. He loved black people, he loved Asian people and he even loved Gators, sometimes. …