Published January 13, 2015
Dozens waited in near-zero temperatures, some clutching flowers and cards, to pay their respects to Dan Parmenter, one of five students killed by a gunman last week at Northern Illinois University.
Many of Parmenter's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers — wearing ribbons in remembrance of the 20-year-old sophomore — visited a funeral home in west-suburban Hillside on the eve of his funeral, set for Tuesday.
"Dan was a quiet young man, very nice and very determined," said family friend George Sefer.
On Monday, a large bouquet of flowers sat next to Parmenter's casket, along with a card bearing the message, "We will all remember your son Dan as a wonderful person." Photographs of Parmenter as a child and Boy Scout and as a young man skiing and playing volleyball were placed nearby.
Investigators still haven't determined what set off 27-year-old shooter Steven Kazmierczak, who opened fire during a science lecture with a shotgun and pistols, then committed suicide.
Earlier Monday, mourners also gathered at Our Lady of the Mount Church in Cicero to pay their last respects to Catalina Garcia, who was remembered as a "daughter of Cicero" by city officials in this heavily Hispanic suburb.
"She chose the hard path to pursue university education," NIU President John Peters said at the 20-year-old's funeral. Garcia, the youngest of four children in a family that had immigrated to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, was studying to become a teacher.
"She had goals and dreams. She inspired us all and should inspire young people of our community," Peters said.
A mariachi band played hymns during the Spanish Mass that attracted hundreds of mourners, who filled the pews, and spilled out into hallways and a foyer.
They saw photographs of Garcia, arranged to spell "Cati," her nickname. They saw Garcia's body, dressed in a pink ballgown-style dress and jeweled tiara inside a pale pink casket. And because they knew pink was her favorite color, many mourners themselves wore their own pink ribbons, ties and hair bands.
Services also were held Monday for 19-year-old Ryanne Mace, who aspired to be a therapist and whose father, Eric Mace, reminisced about "her ability to listen to the almost endless stream of problems that teenagers have."
"While I chose a career of fixing machines, she chose to fix other people," Eric Mace said in a statement read at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles.
Wind chills below zero didn't keep about 300 people from attending a candlelight vigil at the University of Illinois, where Kazmierczak was a graduate student in the School of Social Work.
"The candles that you hold tonight will burn out soon," Chancellor Richard Herman said. "But the lasting flame in your hearts, the love that this troubled world so desperately needs, must burn forever."
In Blacksburg, Va., more than 1,000 people gathered Monday for a candlelight vigil on the Virginia Tech campus. That school was rocked last April when a student killed 32 people before killing himself.
In Northern Illinois University's hometown of DeKalb, Samantha Dehner, who was shot twice during the attack, was released from Kishwaukee Community Hospital.
Dehner, 20, underwent surgery Friday to repair a shattered bone in her arm. Her physicians said they're unsure whether she'll ever regain full use of her right arm and elbow.
"It's going to be a long recovery period of months to years," said orthopedic surgeon Rajeev Jain. "She's young. She's healthy. That gives her the best chance."
Dehner's family said the sophomore had been friends with Gayle Dubowski, who was killed in the attack, since fourth grade and was close friends with at least one other wounded student.
"We do consider ourselves lucky that we're able to take ours home," said her father, Robert Dehner, who choked up as he described the outpouring of community support.