NEW PORT RICHEY — The Rev. Philip Hollins made a last-minute change to the hymns his choir was scheduled to sing during Sunday's service.
Praise Ye The Lord, The Almighty and Though I May Speak would hold special significance for the congregation of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Seven Springs. They were favorites of Lynne Thompson, the former wife of church founder Peter Thompson, whose soprano was absent from the ensemble.
Authorities say Lynne Thompson, 55, was shot four times Wednesday with a semiautomatic handgun while she was using an ATM in Columbia, S.C. The next day authorities arrested Kendrick M. Nesbitt, 37, and charged him with her murder.
"I was in total disbelief when I heard," said Beverly Alderdice, 67, a choir member and friend who attended the Seven Springs church with Mrs. Thompson. "You hear these things, but you don't expect you'd ever know of anyone involved."
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Mrs. Thompson's husband, Peter, founded the church in 1984, Alderdice said. She was an introvert with a generous spirit who loved classical music and reading, Alderdice said.
Once, Mrs. Thompson stopped by Alderdice's new house to pressure clean her sidewalks and driveway.
Another time, when church administrator Karen Martin had surgery, Mrs. Thompson brought a pan of turkey tetrazzini to her Tarpon Springs home.
The St. Louis native and her husband adopted a son, Jesse, in 1990.
"They adopted him as a baby when he (Peter) was a pastor here," Martin said. "The church wrapped their arms around him."
A few years later, Mrs. Thompson took a job at the Genesis School, teaching pre-kindergarten and second grade.
She was known for sharing tasty recipes with her colleagues. On index cards, she wrote out recipes for snickerdoodles and baked chicken salad.
"They were out of this world," pre-kindergarten teacher Sandy Mosher said of Mrs. Thompson's recipes. "We always told her what a great cook she was."
After she left Genesis, Mrs. Thompson answered phones and checked people in at the James P. Gills Family YMCA in Trinity.
"The members loved her, and she was very friendly," said Jennifer Rogers, associate executive of the West Pasco YMCA. "You couldn't not like Lynne. She was a pastor's wife, but she told the best jokes. She could always make you laugh."
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In 2004, Peter Thompson accepted a transfer to Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C. Some time after they moved, the couple began divorce proceedings.
Peter Thompson eventually left the congregation at Spring Valley, and Jesse headed to Presbyterian College.
Mrs. Thompson continued going to the church. She lived in Elgin, S.C., working part-time as a receptionist and proofreader at a health care consulting firm, Alderdice said.
According to a story in the (South Carolina) State, authorities say Nesbitt came up to the driver's side window of Mrs. Thompson's 2001 Honda Odyssey van about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, while she was using a Bank of America ATM in Columbia, S.C.
Nesbitt shot her, authorities said, then left her conscious on the ground as he drove away in her van. She later died at a local hospital.
Authorities called Mrs. Thompson's killing a random act of violence.
Even so, one thing has comforted Alderdice since she heard the news of her friend's death.
The last book Mrs. Thompson recommended she read was Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Camille C. Spencer can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.