CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Nearly two weeks after a lone gunman walked into a Charleston church killing nine people, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., in the last funeral service among the victims.
Simmons Sr., who retired from ministry in 2013, continued to serve on the ministerial staff at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, and was among four pastors killed in the June 17 massacre.
A husband and father of two, he once served in the U.S. Army, also holding dual roles with the South Carolina Department of Corrections as both a teacher and counselor.
"Rev. Simmons was dedicated to the Lord, but he was really dedicated to his family," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley also addressed the room of several hundred people, and stood captivated by Simmons' smile.
"How do you look at that face and not smile?" Haley asked. "You can't."
"Not only was Rev. Simmons smile contagious, but he was a true servant," she said.
Muslim physician Ghazala Javed was among the hundreds attending the service, and said despite never meeting Simmons Sr., wanted to attend in a show of solidarity.
"I really hope that somehow hate can be eliminated, especially any racial bias or religious bias," she said.
"It's very, very sad."
A separate service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 2, at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Columbia, SC.
Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. will be buried in the Fort Jackson National Cemetery.