JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Melisa Bowser says her father will always be remembered as a good man.
She said her dad, Pastor John Bowser, was a kind, hard-working, family man who would go above and beyond for anyone in need.
"Always helping someone, and he'll stand by you and he was all about church all the time," Bowser said.
Her father answered his call to serve at the age of 19, and 30 years ago he brought his hard work and fellowship to his church in Jacksonville. Church leaders says that's how the 76-year-old came into contact with 24-year-old Terrence Wright (pictured below), who police say admitted to beating the pastor to death with a hammer for drug money earlier this week.
"After they told me that, I just broke down and then all night I couldn't sleep," said Frances Bowser, John's wife of 58 years. "It really bothered me because you never know what's going to happen."
"Why would you do that?" Melisa Bowser added. "And he would have given him the shirt off his back. Why would you do that to my father? That's what I would like to ask him."
Melisa admits she was angry when she first learned of her father's brutal killing. But through it all, she and her family members are still able to smile and laugh, remembering who he was.
"He was just a gift. He would try to help everybody," Frances said. "That was the problem. He tried to help everybody. Didn't matter who you was, where you were from. He would try to help you."
Frances said when John wasn't in church sharing his faith with the community, he spent time with his family and always knew how to make people feel good.
"In the morning when he would wake up, he was smiling," she said. "When he'd come home in the evening, he was smiling. He stayed happy all the time. If he had a problem, you'd never know he had a problem. That's the way he was."
Melisa said that matter what, her father will not have died in vain, and she says their family will push forward and his memory will live on.
"That's what he would want us to do: Move forward and help his movement," Melisa said. "That's what we're going to do."
Friday would have been John's 77th birthday. A party was planned for the occasion. Instead, his family will celebrate his life.
"We're going to miss him very much," Frances said. "We loved him with all our heart, soul and body."
The funeral John Bowser will be held Tuesday in Virginia. A memorial service will be held at Glorious Church of the Lord Jesus Christ at 213 East 6th Street on May 11.
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