Widow of Arizona pastor killed in Monday Homicide speaks out

The widow of a man shot and killed in Topeka shared memories of her late husband in an exclusive interview with our sister station in Phoenix, Arizona.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 9:49 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The widow of a man shot and killed in Topeka shared memories of her late husband in an exclusive interview with our sister station in Phoenix, Arizona.

Vallarie Woolridge says her husband Donald went to Kansas, where they are from to visit family.

Monday night on Oct. 24th, she got a call that her husband of 40-plus years was dead.

“If somebody is sick and you’re expecting them to go you kind of prepare for it. It’s never easy, but for it to so suddenly happen like that I don’t know why no details. It’s very difficult,” says Vallarie.

Donald Wooldridge was the pastor of Union Baptist Church in Florence, Arizona.

Family and friends describe the 81-year-old as a kind generous man who devoted his life to helping others.

He volunteered as a Champlain at local hospitals and with the Parks and Rec department.

Topeka police say Monday night’s shooting on Southeast Fremont St. may have been a case of self-defense.

The Pinal Central Newspaper in Arizona reported a friend said the pastor frequently visited Topeka to assist a family member who was experiencing legal problems.

But Vallerie Wooldridge says her husband’s non-violent nature raises questions about why anyone would want to kill him.

“He was just a person who loved people. He loved God first and that’s the kind of heart God gave him to be a helper of people and that’s what he did,” says Vallarie.