SAN ANTONIO – Family and friends gathered Saturday morning to celebrate the life of Jessica Redfield Ghawi, a former San Antonio resident and one of 12 victims of the Aurora, Colo., shooting massacre.
Their goal was to do more than just remember 24-year-old Ghawi. They wanted to celebrate her life.
"She was intelligent, driven, funny, beautiful with a very huge heart. She was also clumsy, a royal pain in the butt at times and very sarcastic," Larry Ramirez said.
A dozen friends and relatives did just that today at the Community Bible Church. With stories and remarks they painted a perfect picture of a spirited, sometimes fiery redhead known for the occasional shenanigan.
"Everyone has been talking about what a firecracker Jessi was so I thought I'd share a few stories," Katy Gardner said. "That girl has been getting me into wild situations since day one."
But tears were inevitable.
"We'll miss you Jessi red. Thank you for everything you did for us," friend and colleague JC Carpenter said with tears flowing down his face.
The sadness was palpable as the reality of Ghawi's absence slowly sunk in.
"I'm hurting with you, and her story will continue to be told," her brother, Jordan Ghawi said.
Her mother, Sandy Phillips, has created a foundation in her name that will fund a scholarship for aspiring female journalists like Jessica. She had moved to Colorado to continue pursuing her dream of a career in sports journalism.
Ghawi was also setting up a charity called "Little Things," that will gather sporting goods for the families who lost everything in the Colorado wild fires. The fund will also support that effort.
An additional fund has been set up for Brent Lowak, a friend of Ghawi's that was with her in the theater. Donations for the "Brent Lowak Survivors Expense Fund" can be sent to P.O. Box 310176, New Braunfels, TX 78131, or can be made in person at any Wells Fargo Branch.