BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Friday more than 200 people filled Mount Aaron Missionary Baptist Church to celebrate the life of Geraldine Chapman Talley, one of the ten people killed in the Tops mass shooting on May 14.
Friday's service took place exactly a week before Talley would've celebrated her 63rd birthday. The celebration of life filled with tears and broken hearts, yet also music, applause and even laughs.
Mark Talley Jr. spoke briefly about his mother, describing her as an extroverted, humorous, social, loving woman; someone who enjoyed time with loved ones.
Family said Talley loved watching Lifetime movies, baking, skating with her sister, fishing, watching football, trips to the casino, hair braids, dancing to Michael Jackson and planning "amazing" family gatherings.
Talley is survived by her daughter Genicia, her son Mark, her fiancé Gregory, her brother Willie, and sisters Hattie, Mildred and Kay.
Talley also was a step-mother, godmother, and loving friend. She was known as "Aunt Gerrie" to her many nieces and nephews, who she adored.
"I'm going to miss the way her eyes lit up when she saw me," said Geraldine's niece, Cassidy Rutledge. "I'm going to miss her hugs, her smile, her scent that she left after hugs."
Reverend Al Sharpton and National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump both spoke at Talley's service, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen and Erie County legislator April Baskin all were in attendance.
Talley was born in Grove Hill, Alabama on June 3, 1959. She was the youngest of eight children. She moved to Buffalo in 1971 and graduated from East High School in 1977. While studying at Bryant & Stratton Business School, she became a mother with the birth of her daughter Genicia. She married Mark Talley Sr. on June 8, 1985, and welcomed her son Mark Talley Jr. four years later.
At Friday's service, Mark Talley Jr. reminisced about his mother and also addressed gun violence both in Buffalo and Texas.
"Roughly over a span of two weeks, roughly 40 people have been killed by semi-automatic weapons," said Talley Jr., who also spoke about the food desert on Buffalo's east side.
"If we want to really honor Geraldine, we need to stop the food desert in Buffalo," said Reverend Al Sharpton, who also addressed the continuation of white supremacy.
"We cannot cry for Geraldine if justice isn't given to Geraldine," said Sharpton. "What happened to Geraldine should never happen again."