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(VIDEO) A vigil for a good woman

Decaturish updates

(VIDEO) A vigil for a good woman

A Nov. 1, 2013 Vigil for Shirley Kendrick, who died Oct. 29 after being stabbed to death. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

A Nov. 1, 2013 Vigil for Shirley Kendrick, who died Oct. 29 after being stabbed to death. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur, Ga. – A few hours before she died, Shirley Kendrick was watching gospel shows on television.

It was Nate Young’s last memory of a good woman. Young’s daughter in law is Kendrick’s granddaughter.

Hours after he last saw Kendrick on Oct. 29, Young received the call that she was gone, allegedly stabbed to death by her own grandson, Marquis La’Vonta Freeman. Freeman was set to have his first court appearance the morning of Nov. 1.

Shirley Kendrick, 75, was Decatur’s first homicide victim since 2010. The evening of Nov. 1, residents of Cambridge Avenue and Oakhurst stood outside the brick home of a woman they all called Ms. Shirley. They lit candles for her. They sang. They prayed.

She was a good woman, they all agreed.


Ms. Shirley was more than a neighbor. She was there for people. She looked out for them.

“She raised all of us,” one of the mourners told me. “We’re one big network.”

Cambridge is a changing street in a changing neighborhood. Ms. Shirley’s modest brick home has white columns and sits along a street where older homes are being renovated and remodeled for sale. The Halloween decorations were still outside. The children played in the yards, laughing as the adults gathered in the street beneath the crumbling gold autumn leaves.

Ms. Shirley was old Decatur, when it was still considered an unsafe place to live. She found the hidden talents in the children that ran by her porch. One of the women at her vigil sang in her honor because Ms. Shirley was the one who first told her she was a good singer.

Young said Ms. Shirley loved working the concession stands at Oakhurst Park. If the children were short on money, Ms. Shirley made sure they got what they wanted, Young said.

“She didn’t have to know your name,” he said. “If you needed her, she was there.”

Her next door neighbors, the Posts, organized the vigil and were at home the night of Ms. Shirley’s murder. They heard the screams and ran to help, but there was nothing they could do.

Ali Post said she met Ms. Shirley the first day she moved in. Ali told me that she did not know until recently that Ms. Shirley had won a hometown hero award in 2002, but said it didn’t surprise her.

“She’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” Ali said.

One of Ms. Shirley’s grandchildren told the dozens of people holding candles that her grandmother had personally sent for them.

“Love my grandma for the person that she was,” her granddaughter said, addressing the crowd as she stood on the porch of Ms. Shirley’s house. “She’s still watching over everybody.”

The family said a prayer of departure and a line began to form in front of the porch. Ms. Shirley’s husband of 50 years, Marshall, hugged the visitors and smiled, the blue wind chimes clinking behind him.

Marshall was also injured in the attack on his wife.

Young, composed and eloquent during the eulogy, fought back tears as he watched Marshall from the yard. He wondered how Marshall managed to keep himself together.

“He’s a strong man,” Young said.

UPDATE: Ms. Shirley’s funeral will be Nov. 7 at Israel Missionary Baptist Church at 1 p.m. The church is located at 2071 Hosea L. Williams Drive Atlanta.