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'Very loving, kind people': Uvalde buries teacher killed at school, husband who died days later

A memorial for the victims of the Uvalde school shooting includes wooden crosses, piles of flowers, teddy bears and posters.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
A memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde continues to grow, with residents and visitors bringing flowers in honor of the 21 people killed during last week's shooting.

Hundreds of mourners gathered inside of Uvalde’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Wednesday to say one last goodbye to Irma and Joe Garcia.

The pair met in high school, fell in love and got married in 1997.

Irma was 49 and a teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Joe, 50, was a leader at H-E-B.

Last week, Irma was one of two adults and 19 children killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary. Joe died two days later of a heart attack.

Wednesday’s funeral was held privately and was attended by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“I’m here as an educator and as a dad. I’m with the teachers, with the families,” Cardona told reporters after the funeral in Spanish. “I’m here to be there with them and support them.”

Delia Martínez described the couple as “very loving people.” She worked for Joe at H-E-B and attended the Garcia’s visitation Tuesday night.

They were “always in church and [with] family …and friends,” Martínez told The Texas Newsroom.

After the funeral service, men carried two caskets out of the church and transported the bodies to a nearby cemetery.

Juan Castillon attended the couple’s burial and said he’s known them for years. Castillon went to Robb Elementary, and Joe was in the same high school class as his brother. Irma studied with Castillon’s sister.

He described them as “very loving, kind people — real fun people to be around.”

Castillon and Joe were also coworkers. He said he’ll remember the times they partied together at H-E-B’s Christmas party and other events.

Irma and Joe are survived by their two daughters and two sons.

“I just hope everybody stays strong and everybody comes together and just be there for one another, especially for the kids,” Castillon said.

He added he hopes Robb Elementary becomes a memorial for all who died.

“They should tear down Robb,” Castillon said. “They should have a site, a memorial for all of them, for all the ones that were killed in this tragic event.”

Wednesday’s service for the Garcias came a day after funerals for 10-year-olds Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Yuleana Rodriguez were held.

More visitations and funerals for the remaining victims will continue throughout the next weeks.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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