Tragedy turns into triumph for new Berkeley County teacher

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) - In a few days, more than a hundred first-time teachers will begin their careers in Berkeley County. Among them is a man who carries a heavy heart into his classroom.

Marcus Gaines had mixed emotions Wednesday as he juggled boxes of school supplies into Goose Creek High. It was the first time Gaines entered the building as a full-time teacher, but symbolized yet another day he couldn't share with his wife.

"She was always there for me, always looking out for my health, always looking out for me, just keeping my spirits up," said Gaines.

Gaines is a 20-year Air Force veteran. In 2006, he found and married the woman of his dreams.

"It was just, I guess you could say, a divine appointment," said Gaines.

The couple shared a life full of love. Two years into their marriage, Gaines had retired and decided he wanted to go back to school.

"The Lord put it on my heart that teaching is the way to go," said Gaines. "I went to school, she picked up some part time work and God provided."

It took Gaines six years to pay for and complete school. In May, he was set to graduate from Charleston Southern University but the occasion was bittersweet.

"The day before, my wife had gotten admitted into the hospital," said Gaines. "We found out that she was diagnosed with cancer. So, she wasn't able to be at my graduation."

Thankfully, Gaines had a few friends attend graduation and take pictures for his wife.

"A few days later, we got the results of her test. Come to find out, she had cancer throughout her body. As the doctor said, they said it was a matter of months," he said.

As bad news came, good news shortly followed.

"It might have been that same day I got an email from Principal Huskey asking me if I wanted a position here at Goose Creek High School," he said.

Gaines accepted the position and shared the positive news with his ailing wife. Gaines spent the next few days being as supportive to her as she had been to him in the past.

"June 5 comes upon me and she took her last breath," said Gaines. "Our little dog BB, which we had gotten a year and a half before, passed away the following day. So it's like, pretty much, my household emptied in two days' time. So, it was rough," he said. "But, now I've got a new venture."

Gaines says he spent the summer grieving the loss of his wife. But now that school is about to start, he sees a brand new opportunity to honor her life.

"This is an exciting time," said Gaines. "This is just a whole new beginning and I'm thankful for that. To God be the glory!"

Gaines hung pictures of him and his wife above his desk as a reminder of her spirit.

"Bold, exciting, passionate, loving," said Gaines as he described his wife.

Gaines will teach algebra, geometry and statistics starting Aug. 19.