Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lives remembered at string of services in Newtown, Conn.

NEWTOWN, Conn.

A single bell tolled Thursday at the Connecticut funeral of a 6-year-old girl killed by a gunman at her elementary school, while a cardinal in New York compared a slain teacher to Jesus for giving up her life to protect others. A look at the services held Thursday:

CATHERINE HUBBARD, 6

Amid grim-faced mourners hurrying through a packed parking lot, a group of motorcycle-riding police officers from towns throughout the state formed an honor guard of sorts outside the doors of St. Rose of Lima Church to shield Hubbard's family as they entered for the funeral of 6-year-old Catherine Hubbard.

Throughout the service, a single bell repeatedly rang a sad, slow beat. Catherine's family said in her obituary that she would be remembered for her passion for animals and her constant smile.

Matthew and Jennifer Hubbard said they were "greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet." They asked for continued prayers for themselves and other families who had experienced a loss.

The family asked for anyone wishing to remember their daughter to make a donation to a local animal center, in lieu of flowers.

JESSE LEWIS, 6

Friends and family cried and embraced outside Honan Funeral Home in Newtown at the private services for 6-year-old Jesse Lewis.

It was only fitting that police on horseback mixed with officers on motorcycles as the crowd of about 400 gathered for the service. Jesse's family has a collection of animals he enjoyed playing with, and he had been taking horseback riding lessons.

Family friends Amanda Caroll and Erin Keaney shivered and sobbed as they talked about the "smiley" boy who loved horses, the Connecticut Post reported.

ANNE MARIE MURPHY, 52

St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Katonah, N.Y., overflowed with people as Cardinal Timothy Dolan told mourners that the fallen teacher "brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death."

Anne Murphy's father, Hugh McGowan, said he was told by authorities that his daughter died trying to protect her young students. He said her body was found covering a group of children's bodies, as if to shield them.

Dolan spoke about her sacrifice, saying: "Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends. Like Jesus, Annie's life and death brings light, truth, goodness and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death."

About 15 people arrived at the church in a yellow school bus with "Newtown" written on its side.

LAUREN GABRIELLE ROUSSEAU, 30

Friends wept on the altar of the First Congregational Church as they remembered Lauren Rousseau, the spirited, hardworking, sunny-natured woman who loved children and animals, especially cats, and who had always wanted to be a teacher.

Mourners filled the ornate white-pillared in downtown Danbury, Conn., and the congregation in the packed church sang Morning Has Broken and Let There Be Peace On Earth.

They spoke of how the 30-year-old brightened their lives with her silliness and gave them all nicknames.

The Rev. Pat Kriss told of how Rousseau was baptized in this church, at a font given by Comfort Starr in 1753, in memory of his three children who had died. "He, too, knew something about losing a child," she said.

She then sprinkled water from the font on Rousseau's urn.

BENJAMIN WHEELER, 6

Five uncles acted as pallbearers and about two dozen Boy Scout leaders lined the front pathway to Trinity Episcopal church on Main Street in downtown Newtown to honor Benjamin Wheeler, a former Cub Scout.

The 6-year-old was described as a lighthouse buff, budding musician and Beatles fan. His service included a rendition of Here Comes The Sun and the hymn Amazing Grace. The church was filled to capacity, and scores of mourners who couldn't get in milled outside.

Pablo Carmona, of Ridgefield, Conn., was one of several Boy Scouts from around the area to attend the service.

"It was hard to watch because he was so young," the 9-year-old said. "It was very sad."

ALLISON WYATT, 6

Green balloons, the favorite color of 6-year-old Allie Wyatt, peppered the community of Southbury, where her funeral was held.

The Rev. Walter L. Pitman was the lone speaker at the funeral at Sacred Heart Church. He described Allie as a budding artist who covered her family's home in her paintings and drawings and the kind of child who smiled easily, the Danbury News Times reported.

Pitman said the girl loved to garden with her mother and was always outside, especially in the summer.

Pitman told those who knew the girl that they were a fortunate group, saying, "At some point over the last six years, Allie Wyatt got in your way and you are better for it."

Pitman described the little girl to the few hundred who attended as goofy and funny. He said she loved to read and loved math, and "that alone makes her a saint."

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