Susie Jackson

A picture of Susie Jackson, age 87, who was one of the nine slain Wednesday night at Emanuel AME Church.

Susie Jackson was the matriarch of the family and among the matriarchs of her beloved church.

Jackson, 87, attended “Mother” Emanuel AME Church regularly, showing up for Sunday worship services, of course, but also for Bible studies on Wednesday nights. She was a trustee of the church and once a member of the choir.

This week, she was particularly eager to go because a family trip would soon take her out of town, relatives said.

“She was a loving person, she never had no animosity toward nobody,” said her son Walter Jackson, who rushed to Charleston from Cleveland after he heard the terrible news of Wednesday’s mass shooting.

At Susie Jackson’s home on Alexander Street, Walter Jackson joined dozens of nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings and friends on Thursday.

They discussed the shooting and remembered their Susie’s spunk. Though in her upper 80s, she remained active, the family said.

She had returned two weeks earlier from a cousin’s graduation. And in mid-July, she was to attend a large family reunion. Planning for it occupied some of her time in recent days.

Her sister Eva Dilligard said that the reunion was canceled because of Jackson’s death.

“She was one of the Golden Girls,” her sister Martha Drayton said.

In mid-July, she was to attend a large family reunion, and planning for it occupied some of her time in recent days. Her sister Eva Dilligard said that the reunion was canceled because of Jackson’s death.

Jackson raised her son Walter in the low-income housing projects on the East Side. When he moved away, she gave his room to two young people in the neighborhood who needed shelter.

“She took in others,” Walter Jackson said. “She was just that type of person.”

Susie Jackson was one of about a dozen people trapped at Emanuel AME Church when the gunman opened fire. Her nephew Tywanza Sanders, 26, tried to protect her, family members said. But both were killed. Jackson’s cousin Ethel Lance, a sexton of the church, also was killed.

The Jackson family lost three people in a single, terrible flash of violence.

“Hate is taught,” said Jackson’s nephew Kenneth Washington. “My aunt was a loving person. She never taught us hate.”

Adam Parker