ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) – Some called her “Queen Chick,” others “Book Lady.”

They loved her for her infectious laugh, the way she made the second-graders feel, the way she lit up at the start of a new school year.

On Tuesday, more than 400 fellow teachers, former students, family members and friends gathered to say goodbye to Linda Lambesis, using music and memories to celebrate her life and ease the pain of her death.

“It’s hard for all of us to believe this has happened,” said Diane Lemieux, associate principal of St. Albans Town Educational Center. “We thought this would be a nice way to celebrate her life,” she said to open the 50-minute memorial service, held in a school gymnasium.

Lambesis, 57, of Essex Junction, was shot to death Thursday in her home, the first victim in a shooting spree that left two dead and two wounded. The alleged gunman, Christopher A. Williams, 27, was an ex-boyfriend of Lambesis’ daughter, Andrea.

Laid to rest earlier Tuesday after a funeral Mass, Lambesis was saluted in the afternoon memorial by the school district where she worked for 34 years. Floral arrangements, photographs, balloons and keepsakes adorned the lip of the stage, in plain view of her daughters, Andrea Lambesis and Jennifer Sturgeon, who sat in the front row.

Lambesis, whose grandmother, mother, sister and daughter were all teachers, lived for her students – almost as much as she did for her own girls, said former St. Albans Principal David MacCallum, who worked with her for more than 30 years.

Lambesis ran an embryology lesson each spring in which she raised live chicks in an incubator in the school, encouraging her young charges to turn the eggs twice a day and then coming in on weekends to do it herself.

Once, she dubbed herself “Queen Chick” while talking to a student, and the nickname stuck.

There were other nicknames. Many of them turned up when staff at the school were asked to write their reminiscences on 2-by-3-foot pieces of construction paper. Art teacher Pat Burton strung them together into one continuous page, which was unrolled from the stage and onto the floor as she read excerpts from it.

Lambesis, who was known for her love of children’s literature, was celebrated in song, too.

Remedial reading teacher Lea Menkens led the crowd in a “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” sing-along. Lambesis’ daughter, Jen, played a flute solo before returning to her seat, where she wiped away tears as a duo performed “On Eagles’ Wings.”

A kilted bagpiper capped the service with a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” walking down the center aisle and out into a hallway to lead the crowd to the cafeteria, where there was a reception.

There, on a folding table set up to showcase greeting cards and accept donations for the two scholarship funds that have been set up in her name, was a child’s memento, handwritten to Lambesis on purple construction paper.

“Thank you for introducing me to my new school,” it read. “I appreciated how you comforted me through my rough times. I loved how you supported me and my love of math! I will always remember you as a kind second-grade teacher! Lots of hugs, Katrina.”

For Lambesis, it was a fitting send-off.

“To me, this was the most personal service we’ve had,” Menkens said after the service. “For days, we’ve been stunned and shocked and at a loss at what to do next. This was a great way to say goodbye.”


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