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Grim procession of funerals, wakes for Newtown victims

December 19, 2012 1:14:22 PM PST
Victoria Soto was just 27.

The story of her final moments leaves a legacy that will be remembered forever.

Friday morning, she lied to the deranged gunman about where the children were and gave her own life to protect the children in her care.

Hundreds attended Soto's wake Tuesday night.

People lined up in Stratford, at a funeral home that could not hold them all, and could not contain the anguish of so many; a grim parade of sorrow and grief too deep to measure.

They came to say goodbye to Vicki Leigh Soto, a firecracker of a young woman, passionate and committed.

Vicki Soto wanted to be a teacher when she was just three years old, to follow in the footsteps of her Aunt Debbie.

And, ask anyone there, she was a great one, the kind a child remembers, a person remembers, forever.

It was a day of paralyzing grief in Newtown, too.

Family and friends bid a final farewell to Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli, both 6.

Mattioli especially loved recess and math, and his family described him as a "numbers guy" who came up with insights beyond his years to explain the relationship between numbers. He particularly loved the concept of googolplex, which a friend taught him.

He was born four weeks before his due date, and his family often joked that he came into the world early because he was hungry.

They wrote in his obituary that 6-year-old James, fondly called 'J,' loved hamburgers with ketchup, his Dad's omelets with bacon, and his Mom's French toast. He often asked to stop at Subway and wanted to know how old he needed to be to order a footlong sandwich.

He loved sports and wore shorts and T-shirts no matter the weather. He was a loud and enthusiastic singer and once asked, "How old do I have to be to sing on a stage?"

His family recalled that he was an early-riser who was always ready to get up and go. He and his older sister were the best of friend. He was a thoughtful and considerate child, recently choosing to forgo a gift for himself and use the money to buy his grandfather a mug for Christmas.

Rekos was remembered for her love of horses.

"Jessica loved everything about horses," her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos said in a statement. "She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses, and writing stories about horses."

When she turned 10, they promised, she could have a horse of her own. For Christmas, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.

The Rekoses described their daughter as "a creative, beautiful little girl who loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane.

"She spent time writing in her journals, making up stories, and doing 'research' on orca whales - one of her passions after seeing the movie 'Free Willy' last year." Her dream of seeing a real orca was realized in October when she went to SeaWorld.

Jessica, first born in the family, "was our rock," the parents said. "She had an answer for everything, she didn't miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time." A thoughtful planner, she was "our little CEO."

On Monday, two funeral homes filled with mourners for Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6 years old. A rabbi presided at Noah's service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket with a Star of David on it.

"I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room," Noah's mother, Veronique Pozner, said at the service, according to remarks the family provided to The Associated Press. Both services were closed to the news media.

"Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future," she said. "You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos."

She closed by saying: "Momma loves you, little man."

Noah's twin, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy.

At Jack Pinto's Christian service, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home, where the boy lay in an open casket. Jack was among the youngest members of a youth wrestling association in Newtown, and dozens of little boys turned up at the service in gray Newtown Wrestling T-shirts.

Jack was a fan of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and was laid to rest in a Cruz jersey.

(The Associated Press contributed to this article)

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE NEWTOWN SCHOOL SHOOTING SCENE

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