LaManno's friends and family gather to remember the wife, mother - KPTV - FOX 12

LaManno's friends and family gather to remember the wife, mother

Posted: Updated:
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

Tuesday would have been Terri LaManno's 25th wedding anniversary with her husband Jim. Instead, she was a victim of what authorities say they are investigating as a hate crime.

LaManno was gunned down outside Village Shalom, an assisted living facility, while visiting her elderly mother on Sunday. She leaves behind three children.

Her kids say they are coping with her loss by spending lots of time with each other. The family says they are grieving, but want to celebrate their mother's life instead of focusing on tragedy. They did not want to comment on the man who allegedly killed their mother.

"Our mom was great. She was a great worker, a great wife, a great sister," said LaManno's son Gian. "She will be missed."

LaManno raised two kids and maintained close ties with a third child that was adopted by another family more than 20 years ago.

"It's been a beautiful thing to watch both families talk about tolerance and love, and how that needs to be a united message from both families," said her daughter Jen Handler.

She had been an occupational therapist at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired for eight years. Her kids say she went back to school late in life because she wanted to work closely with children.

"I really got to see firsthand how much the kids here at CCVI impacted my mom," Gian said. "Seeing how much she gave herself up for her work impacted me."

LaManno's daughter Alissa also had fond memories of her mother's work.

"It just amazed me how good she was at her job. And I feel honored that I saw that."

LaManno's coworker, Nicole Heskett, described Terri as "a bright light" who was a "selfless, giving, gracious person."

"Why someone who gives so much of themselves, who is so important to the little kids that she serves, why did she get taken from us?" asked Heskett.

Longtime friend Brian Fowler said helping others was "just part of who she was."

"She was such a loving lady, always put everyone else first before her," Fowler said.

Fowler says support from the Kansas City community is helping LaManno's family and friends through this difficult time.

"The outpouring of love from the community shows we will defeat hate every time," Fowler said.

LaManno's services will be at St. Peter's Church in Kansas City, Mo. A wake will be held Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., with a short rosary at 7:30 p.m. The funeral service is Thursday at 10 a.m.

The Children's Center for the Visually Impaired is setting up a scholarship for CCVI children in LaManno's name. For more information, visit CCVI.org.

KCTV5's Brix Fowler reported from Overland Park.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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