People from across southern Vermont and beyond came together Tuesday in Bennington County to pay their respects to the family of a Vermont native killed in the Las Vegas shooting massacre.
The life of Sandy Casey, 35, was celebrated at a funeral service at the historic United Church of Dorset and East Rupert.
"I hope people respect the situation and have good memories about this young lady," said Sylvia Jolivette of Manchester, who attended the funeral.
Casey grew up in Dorset, and graduated from Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester. She then graduated from the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, where she studied special education.
Casey continued her education by earning a master’s degree from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
She was living and working in Redondo Beach, California as a special education teacher, until attending the country music concert in Las Vegas that turned tragic October 1.
A gunman killed nearly 60 people that night, and those victims are being remembered in cities and towns all across the nation.
"It’s just very hard to even fathom that something like this could ever happen," said Steve Nichols, a member of the Manchester Select Board, who attended Tuesday’s funeral. "It’s definitely hurt Manchester, Dorset, the state of Vermont, and the whole country."
Inside the church in Casey’s hometown, speakers celebrated her for her big smile and her bigger heart. They recalled her quirky sense of humor and the talent and passion she had for reaching students who struggle.
Beverly King of Malone, New York said she was visiting relatives in Vegas during the massacre.
Touched by the stories of loss, she drove several hours to Dorset Tuesday.
"I didn’t know this family," King said. "I felt this need to come here when I heard she was from Vermont—and pay my respects."
Sandy Casey was planning a wedding when she was killed.
Casey’s fiancé, Chris Willemse, said at the service that the three and a half years he spent with her were the best of his life.