Hundreds come to honour El Paso victim after public invited

Hundreds of strangers have travelled to Texas to honour one of the victims of the El Paso massacre after it was revealed she only had a few relatives to attend the service. They braved 100-degree heat to pay their respects to 63-year-old Margie Reckard. Feeling heartbroken and alone after her death, Ms Reckard’s companion of 22 years, Antonio Basco, had welcomed anyone to attend.

“I arrived here this morning,” said Jordan Ballard, 38, who lived in New York City during the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. “His story moved me.”

Antonio Bosco speaks about his wife during her funeral (Jorge Salgado/AP)

The service was moved from a funeral home to La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Centre to accommodate the crowd. Vocalists and musicians volunteered to help, including a mariachi band.

Condolences and orders for flowers poured in. “He felt like he was going to kind of just be by himself with this whole thing but it’s not so,” Perches Funeral Homes director Harrison Johnson said of Mr Basco. While well-wishers waited, Mr Basco arrived to people shouting blessings in English and Spanish.

Before entering the funeral home, someone gave him a gift that appeared to be an El Paso t-shirt. “I love y’all, man,” Mr Basco said, before breaking down. As the line swelled, Mr Basco came back out to thank attendees personally for coming.

People crowded around to hug and touch him. Mr Basco appeared overwhelmed that strangers were now running towards him to show love and offer condolences.

Hundreds come to honour El Paso victim after public invitedMourners place their hands on the back of Dean Reckard, son of Margie Reckard (Jorge Salgado/AP)

Moments later, mariachis walked through the crowd singing Amor Eterno, the 1984 ballad by the late Juan Gabriel, that has become an anthem for El Paso following the shooting. Some attendees sang along.

Others sobbed and got out of line. Jason Medina, 42, of El Paso, said he had to come. Wearing a black and red suit, Mr Medina stood quietly in line and waited for his chance to say goodbye to someone he never knew. “I know her now,” Mr Medina said. “We’re all family.”

Mr Johnson, who is also a pastor, headed the service. Funeral home staff urged attendees to be patient as people began rotating in and out of the service amid scorching heat. Ms Reckard had children from a previous marriage who travelled from out of town to the funeral.

But Mr Johnson said that for Mr Basco, Ms Reckard was “his life, his soul mate, his best friend.” On Tuesday, a post on Facebook showed a photo of a bereft Mr Basco kneeling by a candlelight memorial. The post welcomed anyone to attend Ms Reckard’s funeral and soon drew thousands of comments and shares.

Her son, Harry Dean Reckard, told The New York Times that when he and his brother and sister were children, the family did not have much money and frequently moved. He said his mother would sometimes work at fast food restaurants or as a hotel housekeeper to add to what her husband earned as a truck driver. He said that after his father died in 1995, his mother began a relationship with Mr Basco.

The couple had moved to El Paso a few years ago.

He said his mother, who had been battling Parkinson’s disease, “was loved by many”.

You may also like...