New Mexico shooting victims mourned by their children, 64 grandchildren

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SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Gwendolyn Dean Schofield was hoping to live to be 100, and she was almost there.

But on May 15, in what seemed like a last act of kindness, Schofield and her daughter stopped on a residential street in the northwestern New Mexico town of Farmington to help a woman who had been shot randomly. hit by gunfire and died.

“I guarantee you that 10 times out of 10 they would have stopped in that situation,” said Dallin Dean, Schofield’s grandson.

Schofield, who grew up during the Great Depression and became a teacher during World War II, was one month short of her 98th birthday. Daughter Melodie Ivie, who ran a preschool with the catchy name “Ivie League,” was 73. The woman they stopped to help, Shirley Voita, was a 79-year-old retired school nurse who regularly attended morning mass and volunteered to to help people. file their tax returns.

Each of the women led active professional and civic lives centered around their family and faith, leaving indelible marks in a city of 50,000 near the point where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah meet.

They had a total of 64 grandchildren.

They were buried this week during two days of memorial services in a community still mourning the fallout from a rampage by an 18-year-old on the eve of his high school graduation that left six others injured, including two police officers. Officers shot and killed the gunman.

At a joint memorial service Thursday for Schofield and Ivie, Dean watched the crowd and told them that his aunt and grandmother would have been the first to forgive the gunman if they had survived.

Schofield began teaching in the remote town of Valier, Montana amid a teacher shortage during World War II. There she met her first husband, Raymond Dean, a crop dust pilot. They married in 1946 and had four children.

Schofield moved on to other teaching jobs, moving to small towns in Wyoming and Idaho before settling in Farmington to be closer to her family after Raymond Dean died in the 1990s. She remarried but was widowed again 20 years later in 2020.

Dean said his grandmother — affectionately called “Grandma Dean” by her 26 grandchildren — was self-reliant. She loved gardening and growing her own food and always kept a stock of canned goods.

At 97, Dean said, his grandmother remained vibrant. Relatives at the memorial service said Schofield did this by living with a “loving spirit devoid of anger and criticism” and a “forgiving heart”.

Dean said his family had been talking about her 100th birthday party before the shooting.

Ivie followed in her mother’s footsteps as an educator. For decades, “Mrs. Ivie” welcomed hundreds of Farmington children into her home, where she ran the Ivie League Kindergarten and prepared generations of children for kindergarten.

Neighbor Sheldon Pickering, 42, said he grew up a few houses from the Ivie family home and would often play the piano there for Ivie whenever she asked to hear a song.

“She really made you feel part of the family,” Pickering said.

As Pickering grew older, he enrolled his daughter and son in Ivie League Kindergarten, where they learned to tie shoes and count, and where Ivie Pickering learned numerous lessons that he says changed the way he views parenting.

On one occasion, Pickering recalled feeling embarrassed after buying his daughter a pack of gum and sending her to school, where gum was banned. When Pickering apologized and said he should have said no when his daughter asked for the candy, Ivie assured him that a parent should say yes to the little things.

“Your kids will remember,” Pickering recalled Ivie saying. “So say yes to the little things when you can.”

Ivie and her husband, Dennis, raised their eight children in Farmington.

Later in life, the couple served as senior missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana and offered to support students afterward, family members said. Ivie’s husband passed away last year.

Ivie and Schofield had grown particularly close in recent years after Ivie took her mother into her home, Dean said.

On the morning of the shooting, they drove together to pick up one of Ivie’s grandchildren from school, Dean said. They never arrived.

According to police, it appeared that the shooter was not targeting anyone. Rather, he fired indiscriminately from outside his home before walking around the neighborhood, perforating cars and homes with three different weapons. Video recently released by police includes a voice that authorities believe is the shooter, urging police to kill him.

On Friday, police released a new trove of body and dash camera videos that paint a vivid picture of the shooting. Authorities also provided audio recordings of hundreds of frantic calls to emergency centers by witnesses to the disaster and its aftermath, including a call from one of Voita’s daughters.

Voita, who was hit by gunfire in her car, began the day with a morning mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, part of a routine that involved a deep commitment to the faith and community service, friends and acquaintances said.

Her memorial service was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she had been a member for nearly 50 years. Relatives of Ivie and Schofield were among those who gathered to remember her.

Voita and her 57-year-old husband had five children, including the current elected tax attorney for San Juan County, 14 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Mary Johnson, a friend of Voita’s for 25 years through community service events and prayer groups, said Voita “did everything she could to help people.”

That included volunteering at a senior center to help residents file taxes and participating in anti-abortion marches. She also enjoyed skiing, tennis, pickleball, and trips to Colorado’s Vallecito Lake.

Voita spoke of mortality and redemption with ease, Johnson said.

“She was just always expressing her love for Jesus and how we all really need to be ready, all the time, that you never know when our time will come,” Johnson said.


Yamat reported from Las Vegas.

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