AIKEN - William L. Powell Jr. and the Rev. Earl Carter were just a few feet away from convening the Huddle House "board of directors" Tuesday morning.
The men were part of a small group of friends who would gather every morning at the restaurant to drink coffee and talk about the news, life and fishing.
They'd argue over "who was the best fisherman, who was the worst," said Laura Knotts, Mr. Powell's oldest daughter.
"They were all good Christian men, good friends, fishing buddies," she said.
Mr. Powell and the Rev. Carter were in the Huddle House parking lot when an armed man ambushed them shortly after 7 a.m.
Just moments before he approached them, the gunman walked up to Constance Davidson in a Burger King drive-through lane and demanded the keys to her car. When she refused and drove away, he shot her in the back.
"She stomped it," said the Rev. Larry Brown of Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta, where Mrs. Davidson, 59, is a member and sings in the choir.
He visited with her at Medical College of Georgia Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. She was in good condition and "thankful to God to be alive," he said.
The gunman ran from Burger King to the parking lot where Mr. Powell and the Rev. Carter were.
He shot the Rev. Carter, who ministers at Little Horse Creek Baptist Church, in the throat, sending him to Medical College of Georgia Hospital. Mr. Powell, who was shot in the head, was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Powell's family was mourning the loss of their patriarch, a man they said could always be counted on to take care of others.
"We just can't understand why he (the gunman) would do something like this to someone who would have done him no harm, who would have given him the keys," Mrs. Knotts said in a phone interview.
Unable to hold back the tears, she and her younger sister, Beth Strickland, described their father as a funny, generous man who was an avid fisherman.
"He was the best dad you could ever have," Mrs. Strickland said.
She said she spoke to her father Sunday, calling him from Key West, Fla., to tell him all about the boat races she was watching.
She had planned to show him video footage of the races during the Thanksgiving holiday, she said.
"There's really no way to describe his love for his daughters and his wife," Mrs. Strickland said.
Mr. Powell's family and the Rev. Carter's were close. They gathered as recently as Friday at the Carter home to grill steaks.
The Rev. Carter is loved by his congregation, said Gloria Myers, the church's pianist.
"He's a wonderful person," Mrs. Myers said. "Everybody likes him. Always jolly and joking. All of his members love him."
Linda and Jerry Kiser have been friends of the Rev. Carter and his wife, Pat, for 15 years, Mrs. Kiser said.
She, too, recalled the morning get-togethers at Huddle House, which have been going on for years.
"He's a fine man," she said of the Rev. Carter.
"There's nothing in the world that that man wouldn't do for you, whether he knows you or not," she added.
South Carolina Bureau Chief Josh Gelinas contributed to this report.
Reach Sandi Martin or J.C. Lexow at (803) 648-1395.
A memorial service for William L. Powell Jr. will be held at 10 a.m., Friday at the First Baptist Church of North Augusta, with Dr. Gary C. Redding officiating.
Honorary pallbearers will be the Huddle House Coffee Crew and his fishing buddies.
Memorials may be made to the Children's Learning Center at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, 602 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, SC 29841.
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