January 16, 2011 / 11:34 PM / 9 years ago

Tucson remembers shooting victim who died shielding his wife

TUCSON (Reuters) - A retired Tucson construction worker shot dead as he shielded his wife from a hail of bullets in a shooting rampage was remembered as a gentle hero always looking to help others at a service on Sunday.

People embrace before a memorial service for Dorwan Stoddard in Tucson, Arizona January 16, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

“Dory Stoddard … didn’t die a hero, he lived a hero,” his pastor Mike Nowak told several hundred mourners gathered for a memorial service at the Calvary Chapel in northeast Tucson.

“He completed his heroic act of kindness one final time with his wife, Mavy,” Nowak added.

Dorwan “Dory” Stoddard, 76, was among six people shot to death when a gunman raked a crowd outside a Tucson grocery store with semi-automatic fire on January 8.

As the gunman opened fire, Stoddard used his body to shelter his wife Mavanell, 75, or Mavy, from the gunfire. She is among 13 people, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived with gunshot wounds.

Police arrested 22-year-old college dropout Jared Lee Loughner.

He was charged with five federal offenses, including attempting to assassinate Giffords, who was shot through the head and remains in critical condition in a Tucson hospital.

Mourners heard how Stoddard and his wife were high school sweethearts who reconnected after their spouses died. They were married for 15 years.

His son Dale, one of four, recalled a selfless family man known as “Mr. Fixit,” always looking to help others.

“He was always helping someone, someone who was hurting, someone who needed some care or just a gallon of gasoline,” he told the service, flanked by his three brothers. “Guys like my father are rare.”

Stoddard is survived by his wife, the four sons, and his wife’s four daughters. Together they had 21 grandchildren and 20 great-grand children.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton

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