Hundreds celebrate life of 18-year-old Mesan - East Valley Tribune: News

Hundreds celebrate life of 18-year-old Mesan

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Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 10:27 pm | Updated: 1:03 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Last week, about 40 of Ashley DeWitte's teenaged friends gathered on a Mesa neighborhood street near her family's home to hold a candlelight vigil and celebrate the life of the 18-year-old woman who touched their lives. On Tuesday, nearly 200 of DeWitte's family members and friends converged at Central Christian Church of the East Valley in Mesa to attend DeWitte's memorial service to again celebrate her life, pray and listen to messages that provided hope during a time when life is hard to grasp.

Man who killed woman, self had been suicidal

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Last week, about 40 of Ashley DeWitte's teenaged friends gathered on a Mesa neighborhood street near her family's home to hold a candlelight vigil and celebrate the life of the 18-year-old woman who touched their lives.

Man who killed woman, self had been suicidal

Friends remember victim in murder-suicide

On Tuesday, nearly 200 of DeWitte's family members and friends converged at Central Christian Church of the East Valley in Mesa to attend DeWitte's memorial service to again celebrate her life, pray and listen to messages that provided hope during a time when life is hard to grasp.

DeWitte, a 2009 graduate of Mountain View High School who loved poetry, was proud of her first job as a lifeguard at Sunsplash in Mesa and had aspirations to become a teacher. She was shot and killed June 24 in front of her family's house in the 2000 block of East Encanto Street by 20-year-old ex-boyfriend Eric Serdechny, who then shot and killed himself.

The memorial service featured a slideshow projecting pictures of DeWitte being both serious and silly during her high school graduation, siblings' birthday parties, opening Christmas presents, and clutching her pet chihuahua.

The slideshow was shown to the music of country songs, including one sung by Alabama that reminded those in attendance that there are angels among us.

A poem, "Ashley's Joy," author unknown, also was read during the service:

"A smile, a look, a hug, strong, old, loving, beautiful, always with me. Her joy is in my heart, cherished always."

"Our journey on Earth is filled with heartache at times," said Don Goehring, the officiating pastor. "This family has experienced one of the worst ones a family could experience."

Goehring also drew from a quote by David Starr Jordan, educator and author: "A life - long or short - its completeness depends on what it was lived for."

"I loved her as if she were my own, because I have four that are my own," Holly DeWitte, Ashley's stepmother, told the Tribune earlier Tuesday. "And I was just as hard on her. She would love to be thinking everyone was there, everybody in the whole wide world. She thought she was everybody's friend regardless of if she walked past you once."

Rebecca Lotter, DeWitte's stepsister, said last week that Ashley was "a blond beauty," who she will miss very much.

Relating to a story about a woman who once swam the English Channel, Goehring also urged those in attendance to see through the fog, keep swimming for the shore and not give up.

In closing, Goehring said, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and not your own understanding."

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