Log in Newsletter


Bill Kirby Jr.: Hope Mills teenager remembered for her joyous love of life


There’s no rhyme here.

There’s no reason for any of us to understand for now.

There’s no explanation for the loss of this young life with so much life still to live, and now a grieving mother, brother, aunt, cousins and community gathered Friday at Crystal Springs Chapel for a farewell to the vivacious 19-year-old who was shot to death in the early morning of July 17 at a Valero gas station on Bragg Boulevard adjacent to  Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway.

“Danielle Claire Golcher was her name,” Eileen Herrell Newhall would remind us of her niece at this celebration-of-life service. “A tender, sweet person. A limb has fallen from the family tree. They called her the ‘Blonde Bomber,’ and she was fond of her place behind home plate.

“She had an infectious laugh and those twinkling, blue eyes.

“She was an animal lover,” the aunt would say. “She loved milk. She loved sleeping and napping. She could belt out a song a cappella. She loved and respected her mom. Danielle Claire Golcher was her name.”

Danielle Claire Golcher’s softball bat was nearby, with her softball batting glove. 

Her youth softball travel jersey No. 14, too.

And softball photographs with coaches and teammates of the best of spring and summer days and having the times of their young lives.

“I met Danielle 11 years ago,” Keith Fields, 51, who once coached young travel softball teams, would tell us. “Dani was 8 when she first came into my life. She was taller and bigger than everybody, and she could hit a softball. Danielle had talent, and we the coaches saw her grow. Chris Jackson was the coach who called her the ‘Blonde Bomber.’”

She loved playing softball. She was passionate about the game, and she could send a softball over the outfield fence and out of sight to every teammate’s delight and a mother’s, too, who took such pride in the skills of her daughter’s athletic ability on the softball fields.

Danielle Claire Golcher later was that shining star for Phil Dean, the girls softball coach at South View High School in Hope Mills.

“Danielle was a gifted softball player with a tremendous passion for the game,” Dean says. “She was a leader on and off the field and was well liked and respected by her teammates. I was fortunate enough to have her the entire 2019 season and for the three games we played in the 2020 COVID-shortened season. It was her strong desire to play at the college level, and she worked extremely hard to improve all aspects of her game. She was very coachable and was eager to learn from anyone that wanted to help her achieve her goal.”

She excelled in her freshman year of 2019, batting .556 with eight home runs and 43 RBI at Eddie Dees Field. A rosy-cheeked athlete, she earned first-team All Patriot Conference 4A honors because of her softball prowess.

‘We don’t understand why …’

But no cheers this day.

No rhyme.

No reason for any of us to understand for now.

Just somber faces, and hearts broken in the sorrow for a young life now gone.

“We don’t understand why things happen,” Keith Fields would offer in calming words for what so tragically brought a young woman’s life to such an abrupt end. “Today is hard. A life cut too short. We ask why. It’s OK to ask God why. I’m not going to tell you God had a purpose in this. But we live in a world where people die. We live in an imperfect world for sure. And bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why families have to go through this. But God never said life would be easy. Life is hard, but God is good every day.”

Fields would relate a mother’s words to a daughter.

“Dear Dani,” Susan Golcher wanted her daughter to know. “I love you. I want you to know I couldn’t have had a better daughter. I know you love me so much. I wanted you to have the best life possible. I love you with all my heart, and I will never stop loving you, Dani.”

Keith Fields would cast his eyes toward a mother’s grieving heart.

He would hold tightly to the pulpit.

“I never thought I would be standing here doing a memorial for one of my girls,” the old coach would say. “Life is short because we are not promised tomorrow or promised another breath. But don’t take God for granted. He is here for you in the good times and the bad times.”

No rhyme.

No reason for any of us to understand for now.

No explanation yet for what unfolded when Fayetteville police officers were called at 1:26 a.m. July 17 to find a young woman once so full of life and laughter and joy taking her final breaths, and the promises of her tomorrows to come slipping away.

“We are unable to provide any comments,” city police say, “as this is an ongoing and active investigation.”


Solemnly, an aunt would remind us not of a young life lost but rather a young life to always remember and never to forget.

“A tender, sweet person,” Eileen Herrell Newhall would tell us. “She had an infectious laugh and those twinkling, blue eyes. Danielle Claire Golcher was her name.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

The CityView News Fund is a nonprofit organization that supports CityView’s newsgathering operation. Will you help us with a tax-deductible donation?

Hope Mills, crime, shooting Danielle Golcher, Bragg Boulevard, sports