Carolyn Hemingway remembered for her love of kids, laughter

May. 14, 2014 @ 09:06 PM

When someone in Durham is murdered, Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham organizes prayer vigils to lift up her or his memory.

The vigil Wednesday evening was a hard one, said Rev. Joe Hensley of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, who led the gathering. He said aloud what everyone there already knew.

The vigil was for Carolyn Hemingway, 62, whose grandson has been charged with her murder. It was held where she lived and died, on Glasson Street in the Morreene Road public housing community.

People stood in a circle in the shade behind her apartment building, a light breeze extinguishing their vigil candles. The family of the victim and suspect are one and the same.

Treyvon Evans, 17, was charged with fatally stabbing his grandmother on Feb. 26. He also allegedly injured his 4-year-old brother, who has since recovered.

Hemingway was one of 12 children, one of the middle ones like her brother Julius “J.R.” Robinson. Robinson said his 4-year-old nephew is doing fine now.

“He’s alive and jumping – hallelujah,” Robinson said. He also has visited his nephew Trevyon, who is being held at the Durham County Jail. Treyvon’s father, Ken Evans, and Robinson visit him together.

“Treyvon, who is locked up now – he’s still alive and he’s still family,” Robinson said.

Treyvon’s mother, Tonaka Cook, spoke about her mom.

“I’m Carolyn’s daughter, her baby. I miss her so much everyday. We rented an angel and now she’s gone home. We rented an angel and now she’s gone home,” Cook said. “She’s in a better place.”

“Like Tonaka said, we had an angel stolen from us,” Ken Evans said. “We lost another member of the family with Treyvon locked up like he is,” and they need to remember him, Evans said.

Robinson said his sister loved kids and loved to laugh and play. He’d been trying to get her to join his church, Christ Central Durham. Robinson’s pastor and others who support him came to the vigil, too. Hemingway’s friends and neighbors talked about her love for her grandchildren.

“It’s so happy for me to be in this circle because I’ve never been in a circle like this before,” Robinson said. He told a story about spending time in the same yard with his sister, and how she broke up an argument with hugs.

Hemingway’s friend and neighbor Ellen Motley passed around a sign she made that read, in part: “We love and miss you so much.”

“She was just like a mother to me,” Motley said after the vigil. “We looked out for each other. I miss her big smile. I miss talking to her. I miss her presence and that she’s gone and I’ll never see her again. May she rest in peace.”

Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham has another vigil planned for 6 p.m. Monday to honor the life of Antonio Dixon, who was fatally shot in January. The vigil will be held at 1305 Spaulding St. in Durham. For information, visit