His bedrocks in life were faith and family.
Mix in a quick wit and sense of humor, and you’ve got Chip Tayag — a man who was thrilled to see friends and greeted everyone with a smile.
“He was always laughing,” said Father Jeffrey Kirby of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Lancaster, South Carolina. “He had this great balance about being serious on very important things, but lighthearted on less serious things.”
Tayag, who piloted the WBTV Sky3 helicopter when it crashed along Interstate 77 Nov. 22, was memorialized Wednesday at a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Grace. The crash also claimed the life of WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers, whose funeral was Saturday.
Witnesses and first responders hailed Tayag, a pilot for more than 20 years, as a hero for maneuvering the helicopter away from freeway traffic.
The 57-year-old Tayag is survived by his wife, Kerry and a stepson and stepdaughter.
Readings at the funeral Mass included 1 Corinthians 15, which says, “And when this mortality has been clothed with immortality, then the word that was written shall occur: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”
Mourners, amid a version of “Ave Maria,” reflected on Tayag, a longtime member of Our Lady of Grace. He and Kerry were married at the church on Aug. 3, 2019.
“Chip was a person of deep faith,” Kirby told The Charlotte Observer. “Chip loved the Lord Jesus and he always sought to serve and help others. I would receive emails from him with questions, observations and thoughts about our faith.”
Tayag devoted to family, friends
A Filipino-American, Christopher “Chip” Tayag, who some called “Chipper”, was a family man, Kirby and others who knew him said. He was the youngest of six siblings and had a close relationship with all of his 14 nieces and nephews. He was godfather to many of them.
“It was obvious when the family came together for his wedding,” Kirby said. “It was clear how close-knit they were. He welcomed Kerry’s family as his own.”
Kerry told WBTV in a statement last week both of them came from big families, so love of family is something the couple shared.
“He was always happy and laughing,” Kerry told WBTV, “with that big beautiful smile that I love to see. He was my best friend and the love of my life.”
Tayag loved adventure.
Growing up he camped, fished, played tennis and rode his dirt bike and motorcycle, according to his obituary. In 1994, he was in a motorcycle accident that caused severe injuries and a near-amputation. He never complained. He always remained positive, according to the obituary.
He obtained his certification in scuba diving and became a black belt in karate.
Love of flying
Tayag’s love of flying began when he was a youngster flying a remote control plane. He earned his pilot’s license while working as an IT professional in Maryland. He shifted to flying commercial helicopters full-time and flew for Helicopter Adventures in Myrtle Beach for three years.
The job eventually led him to WBTV in 2017. He operated Sky3 and amassed more than 2,000 hours in the air. Safety, employees at WBTV said, was always Tayag’s priority.
A GoFundMe page in memory of Chip far surpassed its goal of $15,000. On Wednesday afternoon, the total was $49,633.
Nearly a dozen people offered condolences and prayers with their donations.
Harry Montgomery wrote he was traveling on I-77 when the accident occurred last Tuesday.
“Because of Mr. Tayag’s heroics I am still here today,” Montgomery wrote. “On behalf of my passengers in my vehicle and myself, we say ‘Thank you Sir!’”
Christopher Logan, a friend of Tayag’s in Maryland, wrote on Facebook that Tayag was the most positive and loyal person he knew.
“I met him on my second day of work and we became instant friends,” Logan wrote. “I liked him immediately something I have heard many other people say. … We had so much fun hanging out by the campfire, riding motorcycles, going to concerts … sitting out on his front porch. He was always there when you needed him; offering to help you move, loan you his truck. It was automatic.”
Kerry Tayag on Thanksgiving posted a photo of the couple on her Facebook page. The caption said, “You will always be my hero.”
Tayag will be laid to rest Saturday, Dec. 3, in his Maryland hometown at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.