Victoria Soto was remembered as a hero at her wake Tuesday, praised for her selflessness down to the last moments of her life.
The 27-year-old teacher was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown Friday. Though details of her death remained fuzzy, her name has been invoked again and again as a portrait of selflessness and humanity among unfathomable evil.
"Everybody loved her," said cousin James Wiltsie, a spokesman for the family. "Every person that came up to me so far this evening has said, 'We loved Vicky' or 'We loved Miss Soto.'"
Friends tearfully remembered Soto at Adzima Funeral Home and wore green ribbons to honor her memory. Those who knew her said they weren't surprised by reports she shielded her first-graders from danger.
"She'd probably do it again 10 times over if she needed to," friend Lauren Ostrofsky said after the wake, which she described as "beautiful."
"She knew what she was doing, and she was going to protect those kids, just like she protected my granddaughter," said family friend June McGuire, who said Soto was a "wonderful young lady."
Soto beams in snapshots. Her enthusiasm and cheer was evident. She was doing what she loved, those who knew her say.
"She put those children first. That's all she ever talked about," a friend, Andrea Crowell, has said. "She wanted to do her best for them, to teach them something new every day."