Last 3 Connecticut shooting victims laid to rest recalled as loving, special

Posted at 10:50 AM, Dec 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-23 12:50:09-05

By Greg Botelho

(CNN) — It was special, just like Emilie Parker.

That’s how Jill Cottle Garrett described Saturday’s funeral for her 6-year-old niece, one of 20 children and six adults killed at a Newtown, Connecticut, school.

The LDS Rock Cliff Stake Center church in Ogden, Utah, was filled with glitter and pink flowers — Emilie’s favorite color — “fancy” and effervescent like the little girl herself.

“Everything was special to Emilie,” her aunt told reporters outside the church. “Emilie was an example to not only her little sisters but to her family, to all her little friends. And now she’s an example to the world about purity … tragedy and forgiveness.”

Emilie had been practicing for a Christmas show, which would have been Sunday. She never got the chance to perform, but the songs — “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Silent Night” — were played during her funeral. Her two little sisters sang along, smiled, danced, even took flowers off Emilie’s casket and threw them into the air.

“They were celebrating Emilie and her life today,” Garrett said.

The girl was one of three Sandy Hook Elementary School students laid to rest Saturday, the last of the victims of the December 14 mass shooting to be buried.

One was Josephine Gay, who had turned 7 just days before Adam Lanza forced himself into her school and began firing.

A photo of the happy child, wearing a green hat and with glasses on the end of her nose, has been republished widely. On a Facebook memorial page, people remembered Josephine as “a beautiful little angel.”

Her funeral took place on a blustery day in Newtown, as strong winds whipped the hairs of emotional mourners outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.

Some who did not go inside the church instead left tributes at a makeshift memorial steps away, which was full of messages and flowers.

Services also were held Saturday for 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, who is remembered for a singing voice bigger than her size. A representative for her father, the jazz musician Jimmy Greene, described the girl as “beautiful and vibrant.”

On a Facebook memorial page, Ana was remembered as a smart and “sweet caramel princess” — part African-American, Puerto Rican, Canadian and Irish — who loved math picture problems, arts and crafts, ballet and “loved people fiercely.”

“We, your friends and family, commit to remembering you… your loving heart, generous spirit and spunky attitude!” one update read. “We know you are with Jesus and we will tell the world that love wins.”

After Saturday’s “going home celebration” at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Connecticut, her family offered a message of thanks.

“Overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support,” the post said. “Love wins in newtown!!!!

Sunday will mark a new chapter in this horrific saga, as the first full day when U.S. and Connecticut flags will be at full-staff since the violence, as directed by Gov. Dannel Malloy.

After that, the quest to understand what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, and why, as well as how to prevent more such carnage in the future, will continue.

CNN’s Greg Botelho wrote this story from Atlanta.

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