POLITICS
09/17/2013 06:22 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2013

Sylvia Frasier, Navy Yard Victim, 'Always Had A Smile On Her Face'

WALDORF, Md. -- It’s not every day you meet someone who, just for the love of it, works the night shift at Walmart.

After all, Sylvia Frasier already had a full-time job, and a solid one at that: she’d been working at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington since 2000 as an information assurance manager. But as several of her Walmart colleagues could attest, Frasier’s outgoing personality just wasn’t suited to sitting still.

"She did it just for something to do. She didn’t need the money," said Joe Sieger, an assistant manager at the Walmart in Waldorf, where Frasier first started picking up hours in 2004.

"I’d say, 'What are you doing working here? You don’t need the second job?'" Sieger recalled with a smile, and Frasier would say, "I just enjoy it … I like talking to people, I like being around people."

It may have only been a part-time gig, but Frasier, 53, was a beloved member of the Walmart customer service team. Even the store managers regarded her as the go-to person for solving problems. If someone needed a lift home at night, Frasier would do it. And typically, no matter what, she left people smiling.

"She was very popular. Very outgoing," said Sieger. He paused before adding, "She was actually a friend of mine."

When Frasier failed to show up for her Monday night shift, and her team learned hours later that she was among a dozen people slain in the Washington Navy Yard massacre, many of her colleagues were crushed. Some cashiers cried at their registers on Tuesday morning. Others teared up within seconds of talking to The Huffington Post about Frasier.

"I’m in shock," said a woman whose name tag read Demetrest, who said she worked at the store with Frasier for years. "A lot of people are taking it really bad."

"She was overall just a heck of a good person," said another woman, Robin, who also worked with Frasier over the years. "Oh, she’s a sweetheart." Demetrest and Robin said they weren't sure if they were allowed to speak to the media, so only their first names were provided.

Robin said she felt "kind of raw right now" but, speaking through tears, wanted to share stories about her friend. She recalled the time she told Frasier about her mother dying, and how Frasier got her to laugh at an otherwise sad time.

"She looked at me, goes, 'You know, for a Southern woman, you don’t cry right,'" Robin said. "I said, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'Southern women cry daily. You all turn red in the face and look like hell.'"

Robin motioned upwards and said Frasier was probably listening now.

"She’s laughing up there going, 'Stop it. It’s not becoming when you cry!'" she said. "So, I try to remember those kinds of things. She was a good person."

On the quiet block where Frasier lived alone and then later with her sister, there was little indication Tuesday morning that anything was amiss. People went about their daily chores. A neighbor a few houses over mowed his lawn. Another took out the trash. A postal worker stopped to deliver mail that Frasier would never open.

Renita Morse, whose house is directly behind Frasier’s, burst into tears as she began talking about her former neighbor.

"Such a sweet lady. A really good neighbor who'd just do anything for you," said Morse. “Always had a smile on her face.”

Morse, who is 57 and recently retired from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said she had learned of Frasier’s death a few hours earlier. She recalled when Frasier moved to the neighborhood in 1999 and how they bonded almost immediately.

"Sometimes we'd meet in the backyard because our property lines connect," said Morse. "I was just crying because I was just over there cutting my grass, and I said, 'Oh, Sylvia ...’”

Frasier mostly kept to herself, Morse said, but she was "always rushing out the door,” headed off to the next activity. Choir rehearsal every Saturday morning, church on Sunday mornings, lots of travel for the Navy, and then Walmart in the evenings.

"I don’t know how she did it all," Morse said, shaking her head.

"You just never know when you see someone for the last time," she added. "We're going to really miss her."

Frasier may not have been married or had kids, but she was surrounded by people she loved. She was the second-youngest of seven children, and many of her family members lived nearby. When they learned of Monday's shooting, Frasier's siblings gathered at the home of their parents, James and Eloise Frasier, to await news of her fate.

HuffPost reached out to Frasier’s family on Tuesday morning. A woman who picked up the phone at Frasier's parents' home said family members were too overwhelmed to answer questions.

"It's just too hard," she said through tears.

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