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Beloved Florence pastor shot and killed while visiting family members in Kansas

florence-shot Family and friends describe the 81-year-old pastor as a kind, generous man who devoted his life to helping others.

Sunday services will never be the same at the Union Baptist Church in Florence. Pastor Donald Woolridge died unexpectedly Monday when he was shot and killed at a home in Topeka, Kansas. "It's senseless," said neighbor Steven Salazar. "It shouldn't have happened. He was such a nice man."

Pastor Donald's wife Vallarie said her husband had gone to Kansas to visit family. Then suddenly, she got a call that her husband of 40-plus years was dead. "If somebody is sick and you're expecting them to go, you kind of prepare for it," said Vallarie Woolridge. "It's never easy, but for it to be so sudden and happen like that, it's very different."

Family and friends describe the 81-year-old pastor as a kind, generous man who devoted his life to helping others. He volunteered as a chaplain at local hospitals and the parks and recreation department.

His non-violent nature raises many questions about why anyone would want to kill him. "He was just a person who loved people, he loved God first, and that's the kind of heart God gave him," said Woolridge. "To be a helper of people, that's what he did."

Police in Topeka said they interviewed an individual connected to the shooting, but no arrests have been made. This may be a case of self-defense, according to police. "He was a kind man," said church member Chester Cartwright. "If you needed help, he would help you."

Currently, Topeka Police are not giving any details about what might have led to the shooting.

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Pastor Donald and his wife Vallarie
Letter to the Editor: By Principal Joseph McKnight
Calling all principals and school administrators!

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