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Remembering the Navy Yard fallen: 12 diverse stories come to a sudden end
One taught Sunday school to 3-year-olds who always left with smiles. Another never missed an opportunity for charity work, even dressing up as King Oyster. A third refused to let a divorce interfere with being a family man. The 12 victims of Monday morning's rampage inside the Washington Navy Yard were contractors and blue-collar workers, U.S. Naval Academy graduates and international transplants, softball coaches and Redskins fans. Each brought a story to the place they never left.
D.C. police Tuesday morning released a list of the 12 employees fatally shot Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. The victims were identified as:
Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton
Michael Arnold loved to fly and loved his family.
A Navy veteran, Mr. Arnold worked in Building 197 — where the shootings took place — on a team tasked with designing ships.
The Rochester, Mich., native spent his last few minutes alive talking to his wife, Jolanda, who he met while attending the University of Oklahoma. His mother Patricia Arnold, 80, told the Detroit Free Press that "while she was talking to him, the alarm went off. And he said, 'Oh, the alarm went off, I have to go, and he hung up.' "
His uncle, Steve Hunter, said Mr. Arnold was an avid pilot and was building a light airplane at his home. Married for more than 30 years, he had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.
"He was a loving son of his mother and his wife and great father to his kids," Mr. Hunter said. "It's tragic. How can you get up in the morning and go to work and have that happen? How do bad things like that happen to good people?"
Martin Bodrog, 51, Annandale
Martin Bodrog, a father of three daughters, taught Sunday school to 3-year-olds at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield amid a busy schedule of community involvement that included participating in the Christian outreach group Young Life.
"He's one of the kindest people I have ever met," said Steve Holley, pastor of ministries at the church. "He has a way with people, just an engaging smile and kind-heartedness."
Mr. Bodrog graduated the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981 and served in the Navy. He worked at the Pentagon before moving to the Navy Yard in January.
During the Sunday school classes over the last six years, Mr. Bodrog told stories and helped with crafts.
"When the parents came to pick up the children," Mr. Holley said, "they left with a smile."
Arthur Daniels, 51, Washington, D.C.
Longtime Navy Yard handyman Arthur Daniels departed for work at 6:45 a.m. Monday.
"All he did was went to work," Priscilla Daniels, his wife of 30 years, told WTTG-TV. "That man didn't have to shoot my husband. I love my husband."
The large family that includes five children struggled in the wake of the shooting to understand Mr. Daniels' death.
"We're all trying to make sense of this," Della Huggins, his sister, told the station.
Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Md.
Sylvia Frasier had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command as an information assurance manager since 2000, according to a LinkedIn profile in her name.
Ms. Frasier studied at Strayer University, earning a bachelor of science in computer information systems in 2000 and a master's in information systems in 2002. Her duties included providing policy and guidance on network security, and assuring that all computer systems operated by the headquarters met Department of Navy and Department of Defense requirements.
She also led efforts "to establish and implement procedures to investigate security violations or incidents," according to the profile.
Her brother, James Frasier, declined to comment Monday night. She is survived by her parents James and Eloise Proctor, and six siblings.
Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Va.
Kathy Gaarde was a financial analyst at Washington Navy Yard, but when she wasn't at work she spent her time cheering on the Washington Capitals, counting birds for a local refuge and enjoying the company of her family.
Her family in a statement described Ms. Gaarde as "a caring daughter, fantastic mother, wife and best friend for 43 years."
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Ms. Gaarde's husband, Douglass Gaarde, said Tuesday that even after one day he already missed his wife.
"We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters," he said.
John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood
John Roger Johnson was the oldest victim of the Navy Yard shootings, but his family described a busy life that left little time for retirement.
The logistics analyst set his alarm for 3:45 a.m. each day, his family said, so he could beat traffic from his home in Montgomery County.
"He always said, 'Goodbye, beautiful. I love you so much. You have a good day and God bless you,' " his wife, Judy Johnson, told reporters.
Co-workers similarly told of his warm and friendly nature.
"I think the key thing there was his jolly, happy-go-lucky self," his daughter Megan Johnson said.
Mary Francis Knight, 51, Reston
When she wasn't at the Navy Yard, Mary Francis Knight since July had taught at Northern Virginia Community College as an adjunct assistant professor of information technology.
Her fall class — Spreadsheet Software I — was scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday. But Ms. Knight never left the Navy Yard, where the Fayetteville, N.C., native worked as an information technology specialist.
"She was a great patriot who loved her country and loved serving the USA," family spokesman Theodore Hisey told WNCN-TV in Raleigh, N.C.
Frank Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers, Md.
Friends of Frank Kohler on Tuesday remembered his love of fishing, the Pittsburgh Steelers and of lending a helping hand.
"He was a really good guy," said Jack Pappas, president of the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, where Mr. Kohler served as a past president. "He was a real humanitarian. If anything was going on of significance, Frank would get involved."
After Mr. Kohler stepped down as president it was his job with the rotary to be the King Oyster at the club's oyster festival.
"It's a hokey thing, but it's fun, and he made a lot of money for charity," Mr. Pappas said. "Our business leaders in the community, about 80 percent are former military and they're used to hard times and bad things happening. But this has affected everybody."
Mr. Kohler had a wife, Michelle, and two college-age daughters. It was not clear what work Mr. Kohler was doing at Navy Yard on Monday.
Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, of Waldorf, Md.
A Charles County native, Kenneth Bernard Proctor was remembered as a good father to his two sons and a devoted Washington Redskins fan.
The utilities foreman was "a very loving, caring, gentle person," said Evelyn Proctor, who was married to Mr. Proctor for 19 years. "His kids mean a lot to him."
Though Mr. and Ms. Proctor divorced this year, Ms. Proctor insisted that the two, who were high school sweethearts, were still very close and lived near each other in Waldorf.
She said she was shocked about his death.
"He didn't even work in the building," she said. "It was a routine thing for him to go there in the morning for breakfast, and unfortunately it happened."
Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit, 61, of North Potomac
Friends and neighbors of Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit said they will remember him as a loyal husband and a leader.
The North Potomac resident had a wife, Anjali, who he'd been married to since 1978, two sons, and a granddaughter.
"He was a real family man and he loved dogs," including the family's golden retriever, Bailey, family friend M. Nuns Jain said.
At home, he was an active member of the local Hare Krishna Hindu temple and at work he was a marine engineer and naval architect at Navy Yard.
Olga Galperina, a next-door neighbor, told the Huffington Post that only a few days ago Mr. Pandit knocked on her door to tell her some of her garden tomatoes were ripe.
"He could have ignored it, let them rot," she said. "It's a silly example. He was human to me."
Gerald Read, 58, Alexandria
Gerald Read, an information assurance specialist, worked for the Navy Sea Systems Command for 12 years after a career that included a stint as a military police officer with the U.S. Army and as a senior systems analyst with Northrop Grumman.
Away from work, Mr. Read's LinkedIn profile listed model railroading, home brewing and dogs as interests.
Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, Westminster, Md.
After a long career with the Maryland State Police, Richard Michael Ridgell worked as a security guard at the Navy Yard.
The graduate of Brooklyn Park High School was known to friends as "Mike" or "Mr. Mike." He helped coach a Westminster Jaycees girls softball team on which one of his daughters played.
Those daughters remained important to him.
"Love my Girls!" Mr. Ridgell tweeted last month.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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