Community remembers beloved landscaper: 'He's probably the watcher of the trees in heaven'

(Photo provided by Jason Drake)

People around the Grand Strand are mourning the loss of a beloved landscaper.

Dewey Small was 39 when he lost his life Wednesday afternoon after falling from a tree in a Socastee yard. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Many friends and family members took to social media Thursday to pay respect to Small. Others, like the Turtle Market paid tribute outside.

On Thursday, the shop's owner used his LED sign to share the words "Dewey Small RIP."

"He wanted to make everybody smile...and he could do that simply with his smile," said Jason Drake, Small's best friend since third grade.

They grew up playing sports together, said Drake. Being that close, when Drake got word of the accident, he rushed to the scene as fast as he could.

"He was, without a doubt, the hardest-working man I know, without a doubt, and anybody would say that," said Drake.

Small inspired Drake to get into the business. Drake now owns and runs Drake's Complete Landscaping Service. With both operating small businesses, the two often helped each other.

A few months back, they were working on a home in Little River trimming trees.

"He's like, 'Let's go ahead and take this tree down, too,'" said Drake. "I was like, 'No, this guy didn't say nothing about that tree.' He goes, 'We'll do it for him anyway. It's gonna be a nuisance in a year or so,'" said Drake.

He was a passionate worker. He cared about what he did and always worked hard. Drake said Small got that from his dad.

"He goes, 'My dad told me if I do a little bit more, they'll always call me to come back, and he was right,'" said Drake, tears beginning to fill his eyes.

Also memorable is Small's positive attitude, said Drake.

"He'd probably be mad at me right now, being upset, but he'd get over it."

Others said Small's commitment took him far.

"If he ever wanted to run for mayor, he'd win," said Bradley Parker, a longtime friend of Small's.

At the Turtle Market in Socastee, cashier Greg Whittington said he can't believe Small is gone.

"He was always smiling when he came in," he said. "I just saw him yesterday. I was nodding my head at him and just left work."

Drake said he knows Small is looking down on him and his family.

"I wish circumstances were different and [he] survived it, but they're not alone ... and he didn't suffer. I take it he's probably the watcher of the trees in heaven."

Drake said he plans to honor his friend, he's just not sure how yet.

This weekend, Drake plans to finish the job and take down the tree. Small always wanted to finish the job, and Drake said he would have wanted him to finish it.

In an online obituary, Small's family remembered him as "a role model to the community and his family and he lived his life to the fullest."

They plan to celebrate Small's life on Monday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. at Belin United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet. A burial service will follow at St. Peters Baptist Church.

The family will receive friends on Sunday, Nov. 19, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Burroughs Funeral Home in Murrells Inlet.

Memorial contributions may be made in Dewey’s name to St. Peters Baptist Church, 6459 Saint Peters Church Road, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.

Condolences may be made at

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