Beloved community figure remembered at funeral

Family, friends gathered to pay tribute to Michael Liles


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – So many people showed up, and all of them said Michael Liles was an example of what it means to serve.

After his wife’s death, he took on a mission to lead the Justice Coalition. Tonight, he leaves a true legacy. 

A man with a smile and a plan: That’s how many remembered Liles on Saturday. 

In a eulogy delivered by Liles’ son, it was evident he went through tragedy, but he always overcame.

Family friend Courtney Pilkenton said the generous spirit of Liles will always be remembered.

"He was full of joy, even when terrible things were happening," she said. "You’d see him and he would be full of just joy and love for God and love for his community." 

Pilkenton was one of several hundred packing the Deermeadows Baptist Church for Liles' funeral service.

Liles was found dead at his Panama Park home Tuesday, the same place his wife, Debbie, was murdered last year. 

"It's extremely shocking," said family friend Stephen Smith. "It just, after what he went through with his wife, losing her last March, it doesn’t seem fair. He was too good a man to leave this earth so early." 

Although his wife was brutally murdered, Liles found hope in serving the community.

He took over the Justice Coalition as the executive director, a well respected commitment evident through those showing up today.

"His legacy will live on through his children and grandchildren," Smith said. "He was so good and so helpful to people." 

A touching part of the service was when Liles’ son shared with the crowd a message the children received from their father Oct. 5, days before he died. In it, he expressed being truly heartbroken by the loss of his wife.