Uvalde prepares for school massacre victims’ funerals as heartbreaking obits emerge

The first visitation for a victim of the Robb Elementary school massacre is scheduled Monday for a student, 10, Sheila Flynn reports from Uvalde

Saturday 28 May 2022 16:56
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Maranda Mathis “was a sweet, smart and a shy tom boy”. Makenna Lee Elrod loved to write notes to her family and hide them for later discovery. Amerie Jo Garza was “kind, caring, blunt, loving, sweet, sassy and of course funny”.

As Uvalde prepared this weekend for an upcoming litany of funerals, the obituaries for 19 schoolchildren and two teachers shot dead Tuesday in a classroom began trickling out. And each one was more heartbreaking than the next.

The first visitation was scheduled for Monday at Hillcrest Funeral Home – across the street from Robb Elementary School, where Salvador Ramos, 18, staged his horrific attack – followed by an evening rosary and a Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church the following afternoon.

According to her obituary, Amerie was a “little diva who ‘hated dresses’ but nonetheless; she truly had a heart of gold.

“She loved to eat at Chick-Fil-A and vanilla bean frape from Starbucks. Her favorite hobbies were swimming, drawing, and most of all spending time with family. Amerie biggest dream was to become an Art teacher due to her ambitions for creativity. A protector of her brother and as we now know her classmates. This world will never have another Amerie.”

Amerie Jo Garza

According to a classmate who survived, the 10-year-old tried calling 911 on her phone before Ramos, 18, fatally shot her.

One day after Amerie’s funeral, a joint funeral Mass is scheduled at the same church for teacher Irma Garcia and her husband, Joe, who tragically dropped dead two days after his wife was killed in the school massacre.

“They began their relationship in high school and it flourished into a love that was beautiful and kind,” their joint obituary reads. “Soon after, Irma and Jose were married in Uvalde on June 28, 1997.”

Irma and Joe Garcia were high school sweethearts

Ms Garcia, 48, “was welcomed by our Lord and Savior while selflessly protecting her angels;” her husband, the obituary reads, “joined the love of his life and was also welcomed into the arms of his wife, Irma and our Lord” on Thursday.

Among the “angels” Ms Garcia tried to protect was Maranda Mathis, described as having a “huge loving heart” and a lover of “being within nature and spending time outdoors.

“Those who knew Maranda, knew her great imagination and often expressed her love for unicorns and mermaids, especially if they were her favorite color purple,” her obituary reads.

Another classmate, Makenna Lee Elrod, “was a light to all who knew her” who “loved her family and friends so much.”

The ten-year-old “loved to play softball, gymnastics, loved to dance and sing, play with fidgets and spend time with her family,” according to her obituary.

“She was a member of the 4-H club and loved animals. MaKenna made friends everywhere she went. She had brothers, sisters and cousins who she loved to play with. Her smile would light up a room MaKenna loved to write notes to her family and leave them in hidden places to be found later. MaKenna was a natural leader and loved school. MaKenna loved going to the ranch with her dad to feed animals and ride on the ranger. She was full of life and will live on in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.”

As plans for 21 funerals began to take shape, the owners of a local monument company were steeling themselves on Friday for the upcoming onslaught of headstone requests.

Esmeralda Bravo, 63, sheds tears while holding a photo of her granddaughter, Nevaeh, one of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims, during a prayer vigil in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Shirley Welch, who owns Laguna Monument Company with her husband, Billy, told The Independent that the company would be providing stones for free to grieving families.

“It’s extremely difficult,” Ms Welch, her voice full of emotion, said less than 72 hours after the shooting that has shocked the world. “This morning has been a little bit harder. I have not met with the families yet.

“I have sold several children’s headstones in the past, and we sit here and cry together. It’s extremely painful.”

The company had received a large donation from the city, she said, to help with the stones and supplier payments.

While some families arrive soon after deaths to order headstones, she said, she felt it would take the children’s parents some time to make up their minds and gather the strength to choose the stones.

Candles are lit at dawn at a memorial site in the town square for the victims killed in this week's Robb Elementary School shooting Friday, May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

“I feel sure that the families – because this is such a tragedy – I feel like it’s going to take a little bit of time for them to come to terms with it,” she said. “And because the stone is so final, we really don’t want them coming in so soon that they don’t know what they want because I don’t want them to have regrets later.”

In addition, she said, plans were already underway for a memorial monument in Uvalde. She and her husband were heading to the bank Friday to set up the Laguna Monument Memorial Fund.

“Once things settle down, we want to be able to put some type of big memorial somewhere in town for these children,” she said.

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