Many at service shared memories of Mueller
Originally Published: February 18, 2015 10:30 p.m.
PRESCOTT - It was surprising how many people said they knew Kayla Mueller as they lined up to sign a memorial book for her family before her memorial service Wednesday night in Prescott.But then again, Mueller grew up in Prescott and was always out in the community helping others."Who wouldn't remember her?" Candice Fabrie said as she volunteered at the memorial book table. Fabrie attended Tri-City College Prep High School with Mueller and remembered how Mueller volunteered for the Youth Count (now Community Counts) non-profit that helps youth and families."She always was helping others," Fabrie said. "And her smile would just light up the room."A photo of Mueller's smiling face was projected onto a huge screen behind the stage at her memorial service on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza.Fabrie and other memorial book volunteers from Sacred Heart Catholic Church smeared ashes on their foreheads in honor of Ash Wednesday."Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," is a common phrase spoken as Christians place the ashes on their heads. So Ash Wednesday was an appropriate day for Mueller's memorial."Ashes are a symbol of our mortality," said memorial book volunteer Renee DeSoto, a youth group leader at Sacred Heart."It's very ironic to be here on this day," memorial book volunteer Gema Lopez added.Fabrie, a youth pastor at Sacred Heart, organized volunteers who staffed four tables where people could sign the pages of the memorial book, bring food donations for the Community Cupboard, and take candles to light during the service."I really wanted to find a way I could get involved," DeSoto said. "I'm proud to be part of this community right now."Near one of the memorial book tables, people had erected a trellis adorned with white ribbons containing messages such as "Love one another" and "Rest in power." Handmade doves and hearts covered a string attached to the trellis.Several people signing the memorial book knew Mueller from her volunteer work at Northland Cares HIV specialty care clinic after she graduated from Northern Arizona University.Northland Cares employee Bud Sadler volunteered as a prayer team member at the memorial service, helping people light candles and praying for people who requested it. Sadler kept in contact with Mueller via email after she went to the Middle East to help people who were suffering. He was looking through those emails Tuesday, reading about how she hoped to help Northland Cares honor another World AIDS Day upon her return.Mueller's last email arrived in August 2013."It was really eerie to read," he said. "She said she was in Syria and 'things were sort of unsure.'"Robert Shegog volunteered with Mueller at Northland Cares and remembers how she helped bring order to meetings."She had the ability to listen to what everybody was saying and summarize it," Shegog said. "She is a treasure."On the memorial book, he wrote, "When someone you love dies, that becomes a memory and that memory becomes a treasure."Yavapai County Supervisor Rowle Simmons also was among those signing a page for the memorial book. He got to know Kayla Mueller's father Carl when Carl Mueller operated the Preferred Auto Body repair shop."I'm just heartbroken," Simmons said. He said he called his own daughter who serves with Doctors Without Borders and asked her not to serve outside the country.Steve and Monica Irwin also met Carl Mueller at Preferred Auto Body, and their children went to school with Kayla Mueller and her brother Eric. They signed the memorial book, too."As a mom, I'm heartbroken, but as an American, I'm furious," Monica Irwin said, referring to Kayla Mueller's death at the hands of the Islamic State terrorists."Furious is where I am," Steve Irwin added.Police estimated about 2,000 people attended the hour-long memorial."For Prescott, this is the place to be this night," retired Prescott National Forest supervisor Mike King said. "We want to show our respects."As people left the candlelight memorial service, a makeshift memorial at the corner of the courthouse plaza continued to grow as people placed their candles there. Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodderMobile users click here for video