Credits: Jason Halstead/Winnipeg Sun/QMI
WINNIPEG — Despite the sadness surrounding the violence that took her young life, it was an appropriately upbeat and musical celebration of the former Winnipeg girl who loved to sing and dance.
About 200 people sat at Winnipeg's Grant Memorial Church on Saturday to observe, via a video simulcast, a spirited and energetic funeral in the U.S. for six-year-old Ana Grace Marquez-Greene — one of 20 young children who were killed Dec. 14 in a shooting massacre at their school in Newtown, Conn.
"Ana truly was a gift, a gift from God, a gift from Heaven itself," Rev. Paul Echtenkamp told the crowd of about 1,000 mourners at First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Conn., while those watching in Winnipeg — many of whom had known the child and her family — applauded frequently.
"In a musical family, her gift for melody, pitch and rhythm stood out remarkably. She never walked anywhere. Her mode of transportation was dance. She danced from room to room, and place to place. She danced to all the music she heard, whether in the air or in her head."
The service in the Hartford area included video clips of the youngster singing “I'm a Little Teapot” and other songs, as well as a choir and jazz performances by a band and several musicians — including movie and pop-crooner superstar Harry Connick, Jr., whose touring shows had for years included Jimmy Greene,
Ana's jazz saxophonist father.
Ana's small coffin had earlier been brought to the Bloomfield church on a horse-drawn carriage.
The shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 people, as well as the lone shooter. Ana's older brother Isaiah was at the school but survived.
Ana and her family lived in Winnipeg — where Jimmy Greene taught music at the University of Manitoba — for a few years following her birth in 2006 in Hartford.
Her mother Nelba Marquez-Greene worked at the University of Winnipeg's Aurora Family Therapy Centre.
The family moved back to Connecticut this past summer.
The Ana Grace Márquez-Greene Memorial Bursary has been set up by the University of Winnipeg Foundation, whose mailing address is 901-491 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, Man., R3B 2E4. Online donations are being accepted at uwinnipeg.ca/index/donate-now.
Friends of the family have also set up a fund to support the family. Donations can be made via PayPal by visiting anagracefund.imageworksllc.com.