Newtown begins burying 'little souls' lost in school slaughter

Newtown begins burying 'little souls' lost in school slaughter

A grief-rocked Connecticut town will begin saying farewell to its slain children Monday as two first graders are buried in unbearably small coffins on a cold, gray day.
A grief-rocked Connecticut town will begin saying farewell to its slain children Monday as two first graders are buried in unbearably small coffins on a cold, gray day.

The funerals of Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto – both just 6 years old – will be followed by two dozen more services over the coming days as the rest of the children and staffers murdered at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday are laid to rest.

As clergy and funeral directors grappled with the monumental task of scheduling so many wakes, funerals and burials, the families of the 26 killed were remembering the victims as they lived, not as they died.

An obituary from Noah’s family posed a heart-breaking question: "How do you capture the essence of a six year old in just a few words?"

The little boy – whose twin sister, Arielle, was in a different classroom and survived Adam Lanza's murderous rampage – was "impish" and "larger than life," the brief notice said.

"Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite and meanness."

The family included a message for Noah, the youngest victim: "May you fly to that peaceful valley and wait for us there."

His uncle, Alexis Haller, told the Associated Press that his nephew was a great reader who liked to figure out how things worked. He had gotten a Wii for his birthday two weeks ago.

"He was just a really lively, smart kid," the uncle said. "He would have become a great man, I think. He would have grown up to be a great dad."

Noah’s funeral was to take place at 1 p.m. at the Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home in Fairfield, Conn., with the interment at B’nai Israel Cemetery on Moose Hill Road in Monroe.

Jack’s funeral will be held simultaneously at the Honan Funeral Home, Newtown, followed by burial at Newtown Village Cemetery.

The death of the young football fan drew the attention of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who honored him by writing "Jack Pinto, My Hero" and "R.I.P. Jack Pinto” on his cleats for Sunday’s game.

Cruz said he spoke to Jack’s older brother, who was consumed by grief.

"He was fighting tears and could barely speak to me," he said, according to the AP.

There will be no reprieve from the sorrow in Newtown this week, as each day brings more funerals.

On Tuesday, there will be a noon service at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown for Jessica Rekos, 6, a girl who loved horses and had asked Santa for cowgirl boots and a hat. Her parents had promised to get her a horse when she was 10.

"She was a creative, beautiful little girl who loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane," her family said in a statement.

"She spent time writing in her journals, making up stories, and doing 'research' on orca whales - one of her passions after seeing the movie 'Free Willy' last year. She said her dream was to see a real orca. Thankfully her dream was realized in October when she went to SeaWorld."

The couple called Jessica, their first-born, the "rock of the family."

"She had an answer for everything, she didn't miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time. We called her our little CEO for the way she carefully thought out and planned everything," they wrote.

"We cannot imagine our life without her. We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can't play with his best friend."

The funeral of teacher Victoria Soto, 27, is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Lordship Community Church, Stratford. Burial will follow at Union Cemetery in Stratford.

Soto's cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told the Wall Street Journal that she had tried to shield her first-graders from the bullets. "That is how she was found. Huddled with her children," Wiltsie said.

Seven-year-old student Daniel Barden’s funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Rose of Lima Church, followed by burial at St. Rose Cemetery.

A funeral mass for student Catherine Hubbard, 6, is due to be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Rose of Lima Church, followed by burial at St. Rose Cemetery.

Her parents, Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard, released a statement expressing gratitude to emergency responders and for the support of the community. "We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet, and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy," they said.

The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association is releasing details of the services, and victims families have also been placing obituaries in local newspapers.

The Newtown Bee ran a notice for Jack that called him a "loving and vivacious young boy" known for his "lively and giving spirit and steely determination."

"In life and in death," the notice said, "Jack will forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years."

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