A campus is in mourning as family, friends, and hundreds of students and faculty gathered at Gallaudet University Sunday to celebrate the lives of Laura Snyder-Gardner, and her daughter Mary Ann.
Snyder-Gardner, 48, a member of the Gallaudet faculty, and Mary Ann, a 16-year-old student at the school, lost their lives in a terrible house fire at their Falls Church home on Wednesday.
In a packed auditorium, and among those arriving on campus Sunday afternoon, Snyder-Gardner was remembered as more than a teacher, a kind of second mom who mentored, and sheltered students at her home.
Neighbor Steve Klass saw the flames, about 3:30 a-m, and called 911. Now days later, he is still shaken by the loss of a mother and child.
"The entire house was engulfed in flames, leaping 25 feet in the air," Klass says. "She always had a kind word, she always waved. She was a person who instead of driving by, would stop and roll a window down."
Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Gardner, the victims' son and brother flew here from Hawaii.
Speaking of the love his mom shared, Gardner says, "It was infectious. She gave it to everybody. Always smiles around her. She was an awesome person."
"She'd take in everybody," Gardner says. "Take care of everybody."
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.
Gallaudet is starting a scholarship fund in their names.