Cafeteria operator, after-school caregiver will be missed
Howe Hall students and staff buy new school shirts each year. On Friday, everybody at the school wears them.
It’s just one way members of the Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School community show camaraderie, school spirit and such.
Yet, not every family can afford to buy the shirt their child wants, no matter how much school pride the student has.
When one staff member heard about a student whose family could not buy the shirt because they had fallen on hard times, she got an idea.
The staff member, a cafeteria operator from Goose Creek, who also was on Howe Hall’s afternoon program staff as a caregiver, brought in all of her Howe shirts and gave them to the child.
That gesture was as natural as breathing for Brenda Gail Shealy Loftis, family, friends and acquaintances say.
Loftis was born Jan. 26, 1959, and died Nov. 2.
Whether it was offering a cool drink to a sanitation worker or delivery person on her street during a hot day, or pausing to wave at someone she didn’t really know, she was a blessing to others.
If a person was alone in life, she might buy them some little gift to let them know someone thought of them, or do more.
“Any of our friends who needed a place to stay could stay at our house,” says Amy McIntire, her daughter. “We have friends who literally stayed at our house for months. There was really no explanation of it. She would just say she wanted to make sure our friends would have a safe place to stay.
“She definitely was a very Godly person,” McIntire says. “She would watch children during church service. And once a month she would help out at church by vacuuming and making sure all the trash was picked up the around the pews.”
At Howe Hall, she took time to know each student she encountered, says Johanne Bridges, the cafeteria manager and her friend.
“She served breakfast to the students,” says Bridges. “She always called everybody ‘Honey.’ They all knew her and everybody wanted to go through her line. I think she was more able to persuade them (to choose the more nutritious items) than anyone else.
“I called her ‘Boo’ because she was so little, only like 110 pounds. I go by Jo. She would pop her head in my office and look around and say, ‘Jo. You OK?’ She could always tell if I was having a bad day.”
When all of her sick days were used, those at school organized an effort known as “Brenda’s Buddies,” Bridges says.
“A little sticker was made up that said ‘I am Miss Brenda’s buddy’ and each person gave a dollar for one.”
The PTA held the fundraiser Nov. 2, never thinking Loftis would die that day. But in a way, she’s continues to be present at Howe Hall.
“The kids still come up to me and talk about her,” Bridges says.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.