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Family, fans say goodbye to Buckwild's Shain

Kenny Kemp
A hearse leaves the Municipal Auditorium after a joint funeral for "Buckwild" star Shain Gandee and his uncle, David Gandee, Sunday afternoon.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A sea of camouflaged clothing and brightly colored "Buckwild" and "Gandee Candy" T-shirts flooded the Charleston Municipal Auditorium Sunday afternoon as hundreds of loved ones and fans gathered to say goodbye to Shain Gandee and his uncle, David Gandee at a joint service at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium.

Shain Gandee, David Gandee and friend Donald Robert Myers were found dead April 1 in Shain Gandee's Bronco after an apparent off-road driving accident. The three died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The vehicle was found stuck in the mud, with its tailpipe below the surface.

Friends and family were encouraged to wear camouflage in honor of Shain, who was nicknamed "Gandee Candy." Cameras were not allowed in the service.

Gandee's mother, Loretta Gandee, wearing a bright pink "Gandee Candy" T-shirt, spoke briefly during the service before singing two unaccompanied songs. Shain loved to hear his mother sing, she said.

"I want to sing to my son again," she said.

Loretta Gandee said she is struggling with her son's death but she knows she'll see him again in heaven.

"I know where Shain is," she said.

Before the service, a screen flashed pictures of Shain and David to the audience. One showed the 21-year-old with a freshly killed deer. In another, Shain was a small child in a basketball uniform. Many showed Gandee standing with arms around family and friends.

The family's pastors, the Rev. Walter Means and the Rev. Randy Campbell, officiated the joint service.

Following the service, Shain and David Gandee were buried in Thaxton Cemetery in Charleston in a private graveside service.

Among those who attended was Cayla Swiney, of Kenna, formerly of Sissonville. Swiney dated Shain for two years, she said after the service.

The two broke up around a month ago, she said.

Swiney lived in the house with Shain where much of the television show was filmed, but was not on the show, she said.

Swiney called the reality show "stupid."

"All the girls were fake," she said. "They're not country, they're not from Sissonville. Shain and Joey are the only real ones on there."

Shain loved off-road driving and drinking beer, she said.

"It's what he did best," Swiney said.

Swiney's aunt, Angie Shaffer, called Shain a "good ol' country boy."

"He had a special place in your heart if you ever met him," Shaffer said. "He just enjoyed life and he was always at church, like they said."

Shaffer said at first she didn't think the television show was a good idea but she did watch it.

"Some of it was scripted," she said. "But that was Shain...

"He had a heart of gold."

The service also brought out fans of the television show he starred in.

Tony Slutz, his wife Renee and his brother, Dalton Slutz, 14, drove from Chillicothe, Ohio Saturday to attend the service.  The brothers described themselves as big fans of "Buckwild."

The two also made a trip to Sissonville in February, when they knocked on the door of Gandee's house, they said.

Shain was not home at the time, but they met Loretta Gandee, he said.

"She was great," Tony Slutz said of Shain's mother. "She said it happened all the time."

The brothers watched the show weekly and don't think it portrayed West Virginia in a negative way, they said.

"There's places just like that in Ohio," Tony Slutz said of Sissonville. "Just a little town."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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