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(NECN: Leslie Gaydos, Andover, Mass.) - Mourners said a final farewell Monday morning to a young math teacher murdered last week in Danvers, Mass. One of her students is charged with the crime.
About 1,000 people attended the funeral for Colleen Ritzer at St. Augustine Church in her hometown of Andover. She was remembered for her loving spirit and enthusiasm for math.
There was a huge outpouring of support for Ritzer’s family, but it was a very sad ending to a horrible week for them.
Teachers from Danver and Andover lined the steps of the church. Her cousins carried her casket in, as her parents, younger brother and sister followed behind.
“To say that there’s a lot of heartache in that church right now is an understatement. This family is very brave. Incredibly brave people and have held it together really well, and they are a testament to what families should do when these kind of tragedies happen,” said Terry Donilon with the archdiocese of Boston.
Among the mourners were 400 Danvers High School students who came to honor the life of their 24-year-old teacher.
Colleen’s cousin Gina McDaniel spoke, saying:
“Colleen’s gift was that of inspiration. She possessed an energetic intensity that is rarely seen. Her self-esteem, intelligence, drive and love of humanity affected everyone she met. In such a short period of time, one person has made a world of difference.”
Colleen’s parents have created a memorial fund in her memory. It will be rewarded to a student who is pursuing a career in education so they can carry on her legacy of making a difference in a student’s life.