Jan. 24—I originally planned to write my column this week about the wisdom of the music industry as it compares to the conventional wisdom of the newspaper industry.
That column is on hold in light of weekend events.
It is with sadness that I extend, on behalf of the staff and management at the Niagara Gazette, condolences to Marsha McWilson and her family.
For those who may not already know, Marsha's son, Jaylan, was the victim of a shooting on Saturday outside the McWilson home near the corner of South Avenue and Lockport Street in the Falls. He was 24.
I didn't know Marsha's son, but we here at the newspaper know Marsha well.
She is a ray of sunshine, a person who walks into every room with a bright smile, offering encouraging and kind words and hugs, always plenty of hugs.
We know Marsha because she is an accomplished singer with a divine voice whose music has soothed a lot of souls over the years.
Dr. Jimmie Hardaway Jr., pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, who helped organize a community rally on Sunday in support of McWilson and her family, said that's just Marsha — a caring and "real" person who is genuine in her concern for others.
"She participates and has done so much for other people in the community," Hardaway said. "She's been there for celebrations and for funerals. Anything you ask of her she does willingly."
"She's the kind of person that gravitate to you whether you want her to or not," he added.
Hardaway said days before the shooting, McWilson approached him about doing something more to help young people and to reduce violence in the Falls.
In the wake of the tragedy, Hardaway said McWilson is doing what she's always done — leaning on her faith.
"When i spoke to her, she was like 'I'm on my way to church,'" Hardaway said. "That's just her faith. That's just what she's holding on to. She's holding on to her faith in God."
Most everyone in the newsroom has written about Marsha and her musical career and her performances in the community and in other parts of the country.
Now, in light of this tragedy, she is mourning and she needs those around her to shed whatever light they can offer on her and the members of her family.
As many of my regular and long-time leaders know, my stepdaughter lost her life at a young age. She was just 32.
Six years have passed and not a day goes by when we don't think of her.
I have, thankfully, come to the point where I am better able to celebrate her life and memory. She serves as daily motivation for me, a remember that we all must do what we are supposed to do now because there is no tomorrow.
In time, I hope Marsha finds her way to some semblance of peace.
For now, there is much pain.
In a community where she has done so much to brighten the moods of so many, I trust those of us who have been touched by Marsha McWilson will step up, likely in a big way, to repay all of her kindnesses.
Dr. Jimmie Hardaway Jr., pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, which is located about a block from the McWilson home and the scene of the shooting, said he hopes, in addition to providing the McWilson's with comfort, community members who may have information about the shooting that could prove valuable to police come forward to help identify the suspect or suspects.
"I think that's important," said Hardaway, who organized a community gathering in support of the McWilson family on Sunday. "We can't just let this go on. We can't just turn our eyes. I don't know if we can just be afraid. We've got to do something. We can't complain and don't do anything."
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Niagara Falls Police Criminal Investigation Division at (716) 286-4553 or the General Information Number at (716) 286-4711.