At least 600 people gathered Friday at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna to mourn Maxine Shelly Turner, one of 32 victims of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech.
Nearly every person present had a maroon and orange ribbon in remembrance of the victims.
Picture collages, memory boxes and posters covered with condolences decorated the halls of the church.
Organ music filled the sanctuary as people embraced in comfort. Some hummed along to the music while others stood still in reverence.
“She’s in a better place, people tell me. I like to think that that is true because if anyone deserves to be there, she does,” Turner’s close friend, John Woods, said during the funeral service. “Max believed in love and Max is one of those rare people who was loved by everyone she met. Max loved and is loved.”
The Vienna native loved so many things, Woods said, including Tae Kwon Do, Halloween, the Legend of Zelda, her sorority and most of all, her parents.
“She was a young woman who was full of life, with all the wonderful contrasts of a growing, vibrant person,” the Rev. Robert W. Prichard said during Turner’s homily. “She was tiny in stature and yet exuberant as a swing dancer and a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do.”
Turner’s parents, Paul and Susan, said that while their daughter stood 5 foot 1 inch, it seemed she was 10 feet tall, according to a written statement the family issued.
“She lit up every room she walked into, and every photo ever taken,” the statement read.
Turner, 22, was a senior chemical engineering major at Virginia Tech and was just weeks away from graduation. She was slain with classmates and her professor in her German class during the shooting rampage.
She helped to found Virginia Tech’s chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a professional engineering sorority, in 2003.
An arrangement of white and blue carnations that spelled out the Greek sorority letters greeted the ceremony’s attendees.
“Always our sister, always in our hearts,” stated ribbons hanging from the arrangement.
“I don’t know if there’s a heaven but I know if there is, I know Max is there,” Woods said.
Staff writer Jaclyn Pitts can be reached at (703) 369-5607.