“Gone but not forgotten” read a sign outside Waccamaw Bingo Monday night near an assemblage of flowers, candles and photos at the Forestbrook business.
Dozens gathered at Belle Terre Plaza to pay their respects to the parlor’s operators Steve Johnson, 73, and Sparky Johnson, 46, after the father and son were gunned down there during a robbery Friday night.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Christi Brunson of the many condolences the family has received in the days following the deaths of her brother and father.
“I would have never fathomed in all my days there would be such an outpouring,” she said. “It’s such a testament to how great those two people were and how much they meant to so many people.”
Cars lined the side of Belle Terre Boulevard as community members gave hugs, shed tears and recollected memories of the two Sumter men.
Those in the crowd included employees of the Johnsons and Waccamaw Bingo regulars like Carolyn Lyons, whose late daughter also frequented the bingo hall.
“They were some of the best people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting,” the Myrtle Beach woman said.
The shooting happened around 9:30 p.m. Friday at the bingo hall just off U.S. 501.
Horry County police continue to search for the suspect, described as a black man whose face was covered and was wearing gray clothing.
Brunson said it is tough to think about how the person responsible has not been arrested.
She praised the first responders and said she has faith the suspect will be apprehended. Family members on Monday described the father and son as two fun-loving best friends.
“He loved people and he loved joking around,” Buster Johnson said about his brother Steve. “His son was the same way.”
Steve Johnson was a longtime hair stylist who had a salon in Sumter.
The establishment called Styles by Steve has been under renovation and Brunson plans to have the work completed so it can reopen.
Also in Sumter, she said the family has a farm that acts as a special event venue, a flower and gift shop and another bingo hall.
There are no plans to reopen Waccamaw Bingo, which first opened its doors in 1991.
“We’ve had some of these same customers since the first day we opened,” Brunson said.
Her father and brother were the kind of individuals who would give the shirts off their backs, she added.
Cassidy Brunson said her uncle and grandfather were the most generous and caring people she knew.
They would have been willing to help the person who entered their bingo hall that night, she said.
The outdoorsmen were not obsessed with material items and were satisfied simply doing things like driving their pickup trucks, woodworking, doing chores including cutting the grass and fishing.
“I think that anybody that had any communication or business dealings with them would tell you that their integrity was above and beyond,” Christi Brunson said. “They were compassionate men. They loved life. They lived it to the fullest.”
The two were fighters, her daughter added, with Sparky overcoming leukemia and Steve, an Army veteran, surviving colon cancer.
Both were also noted as family men.
One of Sparky’s four children died three years ago, and his dad — one of nine siblings — had six grandchildren.
Loved ones huddled by the parlor Monday night and thanked those in attendance who they regard as family along with local police.
“To Sparky and Steve,” attendees said as they lifted lit candles into the air.
Cassidy Brunson shared a Bible verse, John 15:13, that she said perfectly encapsulates the two inseparable men.
“Greater love has no one than this:” she said, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Inside the dim parlor behind her, a set of lights remained on.