Columbia, SC — IF YOU EVER met Shena LaVonya Mobley, you would have instantly recognized her zeal for God and abiding love for her children.
Stricken with cancer and at times struggling to retain her strength, the young mother of six remained focused on trying to improve the lives of her little ones, the Rev. Franklin Ferguson said. With his help and that of others, she went back to school to pursue a GED in hopes of getting a job to better care for her children.
Every night before going to bed, she’d gather her children around and read Bible stories to them. On the Sundays when she was too weak to stay the entire time, she’d get the children ready, walk them to the worship service held at the center in their Bethel-Bishop-Chappelle Memorial Apartments community, and return to her apartment to rest.
Shena died Oct. 24. She was 29.
Ms. Mobley, diagnosed with cancer at age 24, was told earlier this year that her illness was terminal.
The Rev. Ferguson, sharing words of comfort at her homegoing service, opened a notebook in which he kept the names of those who had given their lives to Christ during Bethel-Bishop-Chappell worship services. Among those he read was Shena LaVonya Mobley, a mother, a daughter, a sister — one of our neighbors who had made her transition from life to death but not before, in her own way, adding to the tapestry of this community.
No, hers wasn’t a household name. She didn’t enjoy the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. She didn’t hold public office or some other position of influence. She didn’t possess tremendous financial wealth.
She was a mother who left a heritage in her six children, whose ages range from 5 to 11.
Ms. Mobley received government assistance and didn’t have health or life insurance. Over the last several months leading up to her death — and ever since — many in the community came together to help Ms. Mobley and her children.
Ms. Mobley’s mother, Cindy Smalls, said it’s her earnest desire to keep her six grandchildren together, and she is working to gain legal custody. She has quite a task ahead; the children’s needs are many — from the basics of food and toiletries to clothing.
But ours has always been a loving and giving community. And it’s my prayer that even more of us will reach out to this family. Monetary donations can be dropped off at any First Citizens’ Bank; make checks payable to the Shena Mobley fund.
Without a doubt, Shena Mobley will be missed, as will the many other family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors we in the Midlands have lost in recent months. Periodically, I write about some of those whose names are published every day on the obituary pages of this newspaper. Some we know personally, others by reputation. Many are new to us.
We don’t always acknowledge it, but we are all connected, whether we live next door or around the corner or across town. We all make some contribution, if only in our own personal circle, that ultimately adds to the fabric of our community.
Here are a few others who lived, loved, worked, worshipped and laughed in this Midlands home we share. They too will be missed.
• The Rev. Dr. Roy C. Jeffcoat, a long-time friend of my family, passed away Nov. 6 at age 65. The Irmo resident, who retired after 20 years in the Air Force, began his pastoral ministry at the age of 18; he labored in the vineyard for 47 years. He served as a pastor in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Turkey and Spain. He last served as pastor at The Saint Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Winnsboro, where he developed and organized many ministries. Through this ministry, eight churches were planted — six in South Carolina, one in Delaware and one in Kenya, East Africa.
• James Edward “Jim” Reid passed away on Nov. 9 at age 86. Mr. Reid, a disabled and decorated veteran, served in the Marine Corps in World War II in the Pacific and in the Army during the Korean Conflict and in the Vietnam War. He moved to Columbia in 1977 and began a career with Anchor Continental, where he worked for more than 15 years.
• Barbara Draughon Wyatt passed away on Nov. 1 at age 61. She retired from residential real estate sales after 31 years. Mrs. Wyatt was an active member of the community and served as president of North Springs Homeowners Association on multiple occasions. I first met her during her tenure on the Richland County Planning Commission, on which she served two terms. She worked hard to help promote orderly growth and good aesthetics in the county. In addition to supporting new land development rules, she led the charge to ban billboards that clutter the county.
• James Roland Bryant McClain died Oct. 1 at age 86. An original Tuskegee Airman, he resided in Columbia. As a young boy, the Camden native moved with his family to New York, where he got the unique opportunity to spend time with aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, an experience that convinced him he wanted to be a pilot. When he was 16, an employer taught him how to fly; he would become part of the Civil Air Patrol. During World War II he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and in 1945 was assigned to the Tuskegee Army Air Field as a Tuskegee Airman.
Mr. McClain served many roles at Tuskegee and in the Air Force Reserves at Mitchell Air Field in Hampstead, N.Y. He flew a P51 Mustang. Also, he was attached to the 15th Air Force and was a control tower operator, pre-flight inspector for B-25s, Air Force radio mechanic and an apprentice photographer.
After leaving the military, he worked for the New York Transit System as a conductor and served in the New York City Police Department. He also spent 23 years at the New York City Fire Department. He also worked for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring in 2001.
• Nathaniel Brown Sr. passed away Sept. 19 at age 87. This Gadsden native was a faithful member and deacon at Red Hill Baptist Church. He served in the Army and retired from the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Augusta Eric Millner passed away Sept. 15 at age 59. He served 20 years in the Army. After retiring, he worked as a civil servant at Fort Jackson’s Moncrief Army Hospital for another 30 years. I met him years ago and instantly learned of his love for people and willingness to help anyone in need.
• Elder Samuel Myers Jr., my cousin, passed away Sept. 4 at age 42. Affectionately known as “Poppa” or “Sam,” he was ordained as pastor of Agape Temple ADECJC not long after it was established in 1995. Elder Myers was a chaplain at Agape Hospice, an anointed organist, saxophonist and general secretary of the International General Assembly of Apostolic Believers Fellowship.
These are our neighbors, friends and family members. Gone but not forgotten.
Reach Mr. Bolton, author of “God Is Grace: Lessons to a Father from a Son,” at (803) 771-8631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.