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In Newtown's Tragedy, Futures Cut Short And Families Left With Voids

On a hillside in Newtown, Conn., art teacher Eric Mueller sets up wooden angels in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Details about the lives of the slain are showing the depths of the community's loss.
Emmanuel Dunand
AFP/Getty Images
On a hillside in Newtown, Conn., art teacher Eric Mueller sets up wooden angels in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Details about the lives of the slain are showing the depths of the community's loss.

A day after the names of children and educators killed by a gunman at a Connecticut elementary school were released by law enforcement officials, details about the victims and their lives are emerging. In the wake of Friday's depraved attack in which 20 students and 6 adults were murdered, family members and friends have made public statements about their loss. And some have chosen to mourn in private.

Each of those choices deserve the utmost respect. And with that in mind, we've sifted through stories from the AP and other news outlets to gather what information is out there about the vibrant, productive, and promising lives that were cut short Friday morning.

This list is by no means exhaustive; for a full list, please see our story from the AP. More details are sure to emerge as the victims are honored at funerals and memorial services in the coming days.

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, had only moved to Connecticut recently, in what was an apparent return to the region for her father, who has been identified as saxophonist Jimmy Greene. According to reports, her brother, 9, also attended Sandy Hook; he returned home safely Friday.

The young girl's family also had roots in Puerto Rico, where they had traveled for a Christmastime trip one year ago.

As the New Haven Register reports:

"In 2009, Greene released an album called Mission Statement. The ninth track is a song driven by a clear, lilting saxophone and supported by light, harmonizing notes from a piano. It starts quiet and careful, then explodes into a joyous melody. The song is named 'Ana Grace.'"

Noah Pozner, 6, was the son of a nurse and the brother to two sisters. His uncle, Alexis Haller, tells the AP that Noah loved to read and was "smart as a whip."

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

In The Boston Herald, Noah was described as a "very inquisitive" boy by another uncle who had seen him last week, at a family dinner in Brooklyn to mark Hannukah.

And Rabbi Shaul Praver of the Congregation Adath Israel, where the Pozners went to temple in Newtown, called Noah "very spirited."

Noah's twin sister, Arielle, was in a different classroom at the school Friday; she survived the attack. So did his older sister, 8, according to The Herald. Noah's funeral has been scheduled for Monday.

Jesse Lewis, 6, was often spotted running around in the back yard of the house where he lived with his mother, Scarlett, who breeds dogs and horses at her farm. She is also an artist and author, having written a children's book, Rose's Foal, that describes a mother and son's relationship through the story of a mare and her foal.

Jesse's father, Neil Heslin, tells The New York Postthat when he dropped his son off at school Friday, he intended to return in the afternoon, to watch the first-grade class make gingerbread houses.

Heslin says his son was doing well in school, and was also adept at handling horses.

Neighbor George Arfaras, 81, tells theNews Times, "I'd be in the yard or in the house... and I would hear him laughing, playing."

Catherine Hubbard, 6, had rosy cheeks, a beautiful smile and striking red hair, as a photo released by her parents can attest.

Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard also released a statement that read, in part:

"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.

"We appreciate the overwhelming support from our community that we have received over the past 24 hours.

"We also wish to express our gratitude for all of the emergency responders who responded to this tragic incident as well as the teachers and staff of Sandy Hook School. Our local police and fire departments and the other agencies who are working on this continuing investigation have been incredible."

After asking for privacy, the statement concludes, "We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy."

Lauren Rousseau, 30, had recently succeeded in nailing down a permanent substitute teaching job at Sandy Hook Elementary — something she had long hoped for, according to her mother, Teresa Rousseau, who works as a copy editor at The News-Times in nearby Danbury, Conn.

The new position helped to make 2012 "the best year of her life," Teresa said of Lauren, who held a master's degree in education.

To make ends meet, Lauren had previously worked several part-time jobs when she wasn't teaching, including one at Starbucks. She also lived with her mother.

"I'm used to having people die who are older," her mother said Saturday, "not the person whose room is up over the kitchen."

Benjamin Wheeler, 6, was part of the reason his family moved from Queens in New York City to Sandy Hook, according to The Register Citizen.

He was his parents' second son, about three years behind his big brother, Nate. The Wheelers chose to move to Newtown for its promise of grassy lawns, a quiet community and good schools.

Both of Benjamin's parents, Francine and David Wheeler, are involved in the arts. She's a musician and singer who writes and performs children's music, on her own and as part of The Dream Jam Band. Her husband is an actor who has appeared on film and on stage, in addition to helping his wife write songs.

The Wheelers' arrival in town prompted a profile in The Newtown Bee, which quoted Francine as saying, "We have friends in Newtown we've been visiting for a few years, and liked the town, so with the help of a really patient real estate agent we finally found a place."

Emilie Parker, 6.
/ Courtesy of the family
Courtesy of the family
Emilie Parker, 6.

Emilie Parker, 6, was a big sister who often tried to brighten others' day, according to her father, especially if she spotted someone who looked like they were having trouble. Her family had moved to Newtown eight months ago, the AP reports.

Speaking to media gathered at Sandy Hook Elementary Saturday afternoon, Emilie's father, Robert Parker, called her "bright, creative and always willing to try new things, except food."

Emilie was the oldest of three children — her little sisters are 3 and 4. And she took her job as big sister seriously, tutoring the younger girls on reading and making crafts.

"They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they're going to miss very much," Parker said.

He added, "She is an incredible person and I'm so blessed to be her dad."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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