Three of the seven people slaughtered in the July 4 parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois were buried Friday.
Services were held for 88-year-old Stephen Straus, 63-year-old Jacquelyn Sundheim and 78-year-old Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza – all gunned down as they gathered to watch an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicagoland.
“I want you to laugh,” Sundheim’s daughter Leah told those gathered at North Shore Congregation Israel on Friday. “I want you to bring a little more joy and kindness into this world every day.
“Don’t let this sadness, fear and anger towards our world embitter you,” she said while on the verge of tears. “The world is darker without my mother, and it’s up to us now to fill it with a little more laughter.”
Leah said she “can’t process” the fact that Sundheim wouldn’t be there “when I have my baby or meet the love of my life, and that fills me with an anger and emptiness that scares me.” The Chicago Tribune reported.
Sundheim was remembered as an active member of her community who loved planning community events, Bat or Bar Mizahs, weddings or funerals. She was remembered for her attention to detail, love of knitting and dedication to teaching preschool classes.
Several miles south, at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, mourners remembered Straus for his sense of humor and love of art and literature.
“We are here with brokenness this morning,” said Rabbi Rachel Weiss. “We are here this morning in shock and disbelief and despair and grief.
“We are here in a painful disbelief that this is the world we live in,” she added.
Straus’ son Jonathan said his father was “a sweet, generous person through and through.
“When you think about what a good, generous and loving person he was, it makes the cruelty and horror of his death that much harder to bear,” he said. “When I see pictures of him … it really comes over me what we lost, who I lost, my best friend ever.”
Straus, who still commuted to downtown Chicago by train five days a week to work as a financial advisor, was remembered as sharp, fit, and fun.
Services for a third victim, Toledo-Zaragoza, were held Friday night at the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista Emanuel church in Waukegan.
The 78-year-old Mexican immigrant was shot dead three times while taking part in the parade with his family.
The church parking lot was packed with cars belonging to loved ones who had gathered to pay their respects to the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather during a visit.
One of his granddaughters, Yesenia Hernandez, was seen crying outside the church as a relative comforted her in a photo recorded by the Chicago Tribune.
Another grandchild, Xochil Toledo, called her grandfather the angel of the family.
“Today, Nicholas is our guardian angel,” she wrote of him, according to the Tribune. “We ask that you keep our family and all families in your prayers at this terrible tragedy and stay strong as a community.”
Toledo previously told the Post that her grandfather initially didn’t want to attend the parade because he was worried about being in a large crowd with his walker.
“He said, ‘No, I think I should stay, I’m in a walker, there will be a lot of people, I don’t think I should go,'” Xochil recalled.
“My father and [aunt], they said, ‘How could we leave you here alone? We would never do this to you, whether you’re in a wheelchair or a walker, we’ll still take you with us,’ and then tragedy happened.”
Services for a fourth victim, 69-year-old Eduardo Uvaldo, are scheduled for Saturday.
Additional reporting from Haley Brown, Gabrielle Fonrouge and Postwires