She was a “nerd” who “loved to read,” but Cynthia Hurd’s greatest passion was her family, according to her brother, Malcolm Graham, a former North Carolina state senator and Charlotte, North Carolina city council member.
Hurd, 54, of Charleston, South Carolina, was among the nine killed Wednesday during a Bible study class inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Alleged shooter Dylann Storm Roof has been taken into custody.
“She was a beautiful person,” Graham, 52, tells PEOPLE. “Very family oriented, just a good person.”
After their mother died, he said, his big sister stepped into the role of family nurturer. “She was kind of the glue that kind of held everyone together,” he said. “She made sure everyone was going in the right direction.”
Hurd, who had a sister and three other brothers in addition to Malcolm Graham, was married. Her husband, Steve, is a merchant seaman expected to arrive back in the United States in a day or two from Saudi Arabia, Graham said.
Graham lovingly called his sister a “nerd” because of her love of reading, adding that she was a frequent church-goer who served on various church committees at Emanuel AME.
“It is unimaginable that she would walk into church and not return,” he said in a statement. “But that’s who she was a woman of faith.”
Graham told PEOPLE his sister’s death was “tragic,” adding in a statement, “Our family is close-knit, and our faith will see us through.”
He called the shootings a “senseless hate crime,” telling PEOPLE, “You’re trying to rationalize something that’s irrational.” Of her loss, he said, “It’s unbearable.”
Hurd was a librarian, working 31 years at the Charleston, South Carolina Public Library. She served as branch manager of the John L. Dart Branch and then manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library.
“Cynthia was a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth,” according to a statement from the library, which closed Thursday in honor of Hurd and the other victims.
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