DePayne Middleton Doctor

This undated photo provided by Southern Wesleyan University shows DePayne Middleton Doctor. She was killed Wednesday by a gunman who opened fire during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University’s Charleston Campus, according to a friend.

Her voice. Her singing voice. That, even more than her oratorical skill as a preacher, is what moved people.

Three things were all-consuming, all-possessing for DePayne Middleton Doctor: loving God; loving her four daughters, Gracyn, Kaylin, Hali and Czana; and loving to sing.

She shared her gift for song with church choirs and congregations throughout the Charleston area.

Was there a favorite song? “They were all favorite to me,” one friend and fellow choir member recalls. Whatever song she sang.

Her voice was “so angelic it could move the very depth of your heart,” the friend said. “How do you describe an angel?”

And Doctor could minister with her eyes as well.

Jackie Starkes met her 15 years ago at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. They became instant friends, kindred spirits who shared a love of church, singing and raising daughters.

Starkes recalls the time she was going through a personal emotion turmoil, “a painful time in my life.”

It was so bad on Easter Sunday three years ago that she could not take her place in the choir.

She remembers seeing Doctor, who was also a minister, take her place in the pulpit that day.

Their eyes met and it was clear to Starkes that her friend understood exactly what she was going through.

“She can see right through your pain,” she said.

The two came together and held each other after the service. No words were spoken.

And Starkes could feel the pain lessen in the quiet understanding of that embrace.

Doug Pardue