“Two peas in a pod:” Friends mourn the loss of Midlands daycare worker and her teenage granddaughter

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Published: May. 6, 2022 at 9:57 PM EDT|Updated: May. 6, 2022 at 10:12 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Midlands community is mourning the deaths of an 83-year-old daycare worker and her teenage granddaughter who was weeks away from graduating high school.

83-year-old Jessie Brown and 18-year-old Sha’Neal Brown were stabbed to death on Thursday evening.

RELATED STORY | Two dead after “domestic situation,” RCSD investigating

Friends say that the women should be remembered not for how they died, but how they lived.

The elder Ms. Brown, as she’s affectionately called, worked at Fantasy Island Childcare Center in Columbia for more than 30 years.

Ron Scott, who owns the childcare center, has known Ms. Brown his entire life.

He called her a “ball of energy” with a “sweet, loving personality.” She was Fantasy Island’s longest-tenured employee.

Sha’Neal is remembered as someone with a “bubbly personality” and a “kind spirit.” The daycare -- in a state of shock today.

Dominic Sims, a family friend, said the pair was inseparable.

“You could tell they were like two peas in a pod,” she said. “So if you’d see one, you would see the other. So they definitely were very, very close. And you could tell that, and you could tell that they really cared about one another at all times.”

Alexis Atkins, another friend of the family who had known Sha’Neal since she was three years old, said that Ms. Brown could not have been more proud of Sha’Neal. She was about to graduate from Eau Claire High School.

“So I’m sure she had high goals,” Atkins said. “And with her grandma’s support I know she could have gone far, way beyond what we probably could imagine.”

Atkins said Ms. Brown was a “village leader.” She inspired her to go into education.

“You know how you have certain people who just instill and impart such a work ethic, a mindset and just a loving person in general,” she said. “And it’s hard to come by. You can’t be built that way, you have to be that person just wholeheartedly. And losing people like that, it just does a lot.”

Scott said that Ms. Brown had such a passion for childcare.

“At 80-plus years old she was like the Energizer Bunny, running on the playground with the kids,” he said.

Scott said she loved the children, the parents – many of whom she’d cared for when they were young – and the staff.

He said this is a “tremendous loss” for Fantasy Island, the children there, the Browns’ place of worship – the Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the entire community.

“Ms. Brown was from a generation that had a work ethic like none other,” Scott said. “She would be here rain or shine. She pitched in wherever needed, whether it was reading a book or feeding the children or helping a child with homework after school. I don’t know who or how we could ever fill her shoes.”

Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins knew Ms. Brown through his work as a deacon at the church on Barhamville Road.

Jenkins said that the news of her passing “took something out” of him.

He said she was never seeking the limelight, but always making a difference.

“She was a very big icon in our church,” Jenkins said. “She was always giving, it didn’t matter who you were.”

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