JOHNSTON CITY — It was the number of mourners Wednesday at her funeral procession that Johnston City Mayor Jim Mitchell immediately spoke about when asked about the late Barbara Beers, 66, of Johnston City.
The mayor estimated there were hundreds of people — a number confirmed by Beers’ brother, William Kinley of Johnston City.
Kinley said more than 400 people were at the cemetery. About 350 people attended the visitation and services beforehand at Murman & Wilson Funeral Home in Johnston City, he said. “That’s what impressed me. All the people that have known her through the years from various jobs she had. She must have made an impression,” Kinley said about visiting with people he hadn’t seen in years during his younger sister’s funeral.
Beers died Friday, Nov. 15. A victim of homicide, her body was found in a yard on McInturf Road, about 6 miles south of Marion.
A suspect, Tamara J. Williams, 30, of Johnston City has been arrested and charged with four counts of murder.
Williams was arrested in Lavergne, Tenn., and is believed to have stolen Beers’ vehicle, according to Williamson County Sheriff Department reports.
It is the brutality of Beers’ killing and its suddenness that has left family members shocked. They describe the widow and mother of four sons as a caring person with a big heart.
“She was beautiful inside and out, sensitive and kind. Barbara was a multi-tasker. She managed to take care of everybody,” said a cousin, Jennifer Sattler, who was raised in Johnston City before moving to Michigan more than 45 years earlier.
Kinley and his cousin, Nancy Montgomery, both of Johnston City, talked about a large encompassing family circle in the Johnston City area that Beers was a part of and how everyone met every Labor Day weekend for a family reunion. Beers and the fried chicken she prepared was a big hit at the reunions.
“The fried chicken she prepared put Colonel Sanders to shame,” Sattler said.
Family members are grieving heavily at Beers’ sudden passing and how she died, Montgomery and Kinley said.
“It’s a horrible way to die after living the life she lived. She never complained. She always looked at the bright side. She was a good person. She didn’t deserve this,” Montgomery said.
A Herrin native, Beers was the daughter of Luther and Bonnie Smith Kinley who is still living. Kinley said his sister visited their mother every day at an assisted living center and tended to all the necessities such as taking her to the doctor.
Growing up, Montgomery remembers her cousin as someone who valued her appearance.
“She always liked to be dressed up. She always looked meticulous. She was all girl and didn’t play ball like the rest of us,” Montgomery said.
Beers worked at Austin Periodical Services, north of Johnston City, for many years. She also worked at Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp. in Marion. During her most recent years, she helped people prepare their annual tax returns.
“She wasn’t fast in her work, but she was accurate and perfect with it,” Kinley said about his sister’s work performance.
And Beers loved her family, having raised four sons through trying circumstances, he said.
“It was a common life she lived. We’re just common people who go out and do what we can to help others,” Kinley said about Beers and her family circle.
“Her kids will be at a loss without her. She was their rock. She was always there for them,” Montgomery said.
Kinley said he feels a dreaded loss and is trying to make sense of his sister’s sudden passing.
“I’m still hurting,” he said.
Montgomery and Sattler voice frustration over Beers’ death and the realization they are helpless victims in the aftermath.
“It’s so frustrating. You feel so helpless and hopeless knowing she suffered. It makes me heartsick. You never think it could happen to someone you know. There are so many relatives and friends devastated by this. We don’t know why. We may never know why,” Sattler said.