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Outpouring of support at Dover store for daughters of murder victim

LIZ EVANS SCOLFORO
YorkDispatch


A steady stream of people filled Barbara Schrum's cozy Dover store Wednesday, waiting in line to hug the murder victim's daughters, share memories and shed tears.

Barb, 55, made little distinction between friends and customers. She viewed everyone as her friend, according to daughters Becky Schrum of Dover and Alecia Armold of Harrisburg.

Her customers were like her second family, Becky said — even the difficult ones.

"Those were her favorite," Alecia said.

"I think one of the main reasons she loved this store so much was she just loved people," Becky said. "If people wanted to talk, she stood there and listened."

The daughters opened Barb's store, Shoppe American Made at 55 W. Canal St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, encouraging customers via Facebook to stop in to talk or hug.

And they came: customers, friends, neighbors and local crafters and artists whose wares Barb sold.

'Incredibly comforting': They came with potted plants, bouquets of flowers and broken hearts; most left with bags full of purchases. Dozens of people embraced Barb's daughters, who seemed to take strength from the community support.

"This is really helpful — really sad, but really helpful," Alecia said, blinking back tears. "It's incredibly comforting to be here."

Barb was killed Friday night in Warrington Township by Martin Kepner as she helped friend Laurie Kepner retrieve belongings from her former home. Martin Kepner then murdered his estranged wife and committed suicide, authorities said.

Becky said she and Alecia have been touched by the "overwhelming amount of support" they've received.

But they're not surprised by the outpouring, because they knew how many people loved their mother.

One of them was woodworking artist Harvey Gromling of Red Lion, who stopped in the store Wednesday. He couldn't say enough about Barb.

"You didn't need to know her long to know what she was," he said, clearing his throat to keep from welling up. "I'll never forget that smiling face. She was special."

"You couldn't help but love her — her sweetness, everything about her," said friend and store customer Joann Beecher. "I don't think I'll ever have another friend like her."

Tremendous heart: She treated every customer the same, whether that person spent $100 or 10 cents, according to Beecher.

"What a heart she had," customer Ruth Miller said. "The world should know how wonderful she (was)."

People talking among themselves remarked that "I think people came just for her hugs" and "Nobody could walk in the store without being the most important person in her eyes."

"She was the most giving, selfless person ... and she never ever expected anything in return," Becky agreed. "She loved everybody."

"... and genuinely," Alecia added.

S.A.M.: Barb and her then-husband opened Shoppe American Made three years ago. Two years ago, she and Becky opened S.A.M.'s Kitchen, offering a soup and hot meal daily; Becky was the cook.

"She always wanted to have a store to sell her baked goods and candy," Becky said.

Customers hoping to buy some of Barb's last batch of homemade candy Wednesday didn't have much luck. One customer bought every bit of it and even bought the basket in which the candy was displayed.

Store a success: Shoppe American Made started out small but grew to feature wares from more than 70 local craft-makers and vendors and offer goods from more than 20 manufacturers nationwide, Barb's daughters said.

They don't yet know what will become of their mother's store, which they said was flourishing.

"We want to take it a moment at a time," Alecia added.

Barb's penchant for viewing every customer as a friend came from her childhood, according to her daughters.

Her parents, the late Curvin and Carolyn Crowl, owned and ran the former Locust Point Tire Service in Dover.

"She grew up pumping gas," Becky said, and talking with customers.

Ideal mom: Barb was a stay-at-home mom while Becky, Alecia and brother Matt Armold, now of Baltimore, were growing up.

She was very involved in her children's schooling and activities, her daughters said, whether that was cheering for them at sports outings, attending PTO meetings or helping out with school fundraisers. Barb did take a few part-time jobs and also sold her candy and baked goods.

"People loved her fudge," Becky said. "There was just something about it."

Barb was passionate about gardening and was always happy to dig up a plant to give to a customer, according to her daughters.

"She was my best friend," Becky said.

Barb Schrum's memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Friday at Chapel Hill Church of God, 4521 Oxford Road in York Springs. Visitation is from 10 to 11 a.m.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.