First funerals for victims of NIU shooting

February 18, 2008 8:57:08 PM PST
Mourners gathered Monday to say goodbye to three of the five Northern Illinois University students killed in last week's shootings: Dan Parmenter, Catalina Garcia and Ryanne Mace.All three students were remembered Monday as people who brought joy to others.

The three services took place in the three west suburban towns of Cicero, St. Charles and Westchester.

The young victims came from very different backgrounds and led different lives, but the common theme Monday, was that all three were the hope, pride and joy of their families.

Inside the service for Dan Parmeter, friends and family hugged and filed by the student's casket. Outside, mourners stood in near-zero temperatures.The wait at his visitation service was more than two hours.

Many of Parmeter's fraternity brothers at NIU wore black and red ribbons to remember the 20-year-old finance student who stood 6ft. 5 inches tall and was even bigger in their hearts.

"He was a man of integrity. He was sensitive. He was caring," said Robert Greer, Parmenter's stepfather.

Parmenter and his girlfriend, Lauren Debrauwere, were sitting side-by-side in Cole Hall last Thursday when gunman Steven Kazmierczak shot both of them. Parmenter shielded Lauren, saving her life.

"He'd be your perfect son; tremendous grade point average, real smart, nice boy," said family friend John Jevitz.

In St. Charles, a memorial service was held for 19-year-old Ryanne Mace. She was sophomore majoring in psychology and was from Carpentersville. Mace was engaged to be married.

Her service was private, but friends and family remembered her ability to light up a room with her outgoing personality.

"She was the smartest, sweetest, most talented person I knew," said Ashley Eggert a middle school friend.

A statement handed out by the Mace family at Monday's service reads in part, "The Mace family wishes to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers and caring as we try to make sense of this loss...our lives will never be the same without her."

Outside Our Lady of the Mount church in Cicero, a pale pink casket carried the body of 20-year-old Catalina Garcia, who was dressed in a pink ball gown-style dress and jeweled tiara, fitting for a princess.

"She was the princess of the family, the youngest. So, she behaved like and princess and deserved to be treated like a princess," said the victim's brother Jaime Garcia.

City officials remembered Garcia as a 'Daughter of Cicero.' She loved children, which is why she was studying elementary education an NIU to become a teacher.

"She would never give you a frown. She would never be sad. She was always smiling," said Jesus Espinoza, the victim's cousin.

Family and friends will gather to remember 20-year-old Gayle Dubowski Tuesday. Visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. at Salerno's Rosedale Chapels in Roselle. A memorial service will be on Wednesday.

There were two visitations scheduled for 20-year-old Dan Parmenter. The first was Monday evening from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hursen Funeral Home in Westchester. The second visitation will be Tuesday before the funeral service at 2 p.m. at Christ Church in Oak Brook. Another service will be held on Wednesday before he is buried in Milan, Illinois, which is near the Quad Cities.

Visitation will be Tuesday for Julianna Gehant of Mendota. It starts at 1 p.m. at the Schwarz Funeral Home. The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Cross Church. She will be buried with full military honors.