CHARLESTON, S.C. – One was a longtime librarian looking forward to retirement. Another had recently graduated from college. At least two died in the church that they had attended for decades. A closer look at some of the nine lives that were cut short by the gunman who opened fire in downtown Charleston:
Clementa Pinckney, 41, was the beloved pastor of Emanuel AME Church, one of the country’s oldest black churches, and had been a state legislator for 19 years. A native of Beaufort, Pinckney began preaching at age 13 and was first appointed pastor at 18.
“He had a core not many of us have,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen. “I think of the irony that the most gentle of the 46 of us — the best of the 46 of us in this chamber — is the one who lost his life.”
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, was a part-time minister at the church and worked as a speech pathologist at Goose Creek High School, where she was the girls track coach. Principal Jimmy Huskey said the mother of three was so dedicated she was at work before 8 a.m. and typically didn’t leave until 8 p.m.
Ethel Lance, 70, was a Charleston native who had been a member of the church for most of her life. She retired after working for more than 30 years on the housekeeping staff at the city’s Gaillard Auditorium. She had served as a sexton at the church for the last five years. Lance had five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Susie Jackson, 87, was a longtime church member and sang in the choir. She and Ethel Lance were cousins.
Susie Jackson, who was fond of playing slot machines, was scheduled to go on a church-sponsored bus trip to Chicago on Sunday.
Cynthia Hurd, 54, was the manager of one of the busiest branches of the Charleston County library system. In her honor, the system closed all 16 of its branches Thursday, the day after her death.
She grew up in Charleston, and her mother made sure they went Emanuel AME Church on Sundays, Wednesdays and any other time it was open, said her brother Malcom Graham, a former state senator from North Carolina. Hurd’s husband is a merchant sailor at sea near Saudi Arabia. Graham was trying to help him get home. When Graham spoke to his sister last weekend, she said she couldn’t wait for her 55th birthday on Sunday, he said.
DEPAYNE MIDDLETON- DOCTOR
Whether she was working with college students or Charleston’s poorest residents, DePayne Middleton-Doctor wanted to be in a position to help people. So co-workers weren’t surprised when she decided to become a minister in the church.
The 49-year-old mother of four daughters just started her job as an enrollment counselor at the university in December, said Crawford, who worked with her as a student services coordinator.
Tywanza Sanders, 26, graduated last year from Allen University, where he studied business.
On his Instagram account, Sanders called himself a poet, artist and businessman. His photos were filled with friends, smiles, family members and motivational quotes. Hours before the shooting, he put up his final post, a meme with a quote from Jackie Robinson: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”