Families, Neighbors Remember Navy Yard Victims

Many family members were in tears describing the legacies left behind by their loved ones killed in Monday's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

All in all, 12 people were killed, many of whom had long worked at the Navy Yard or served the country. 

Monday's shooting was the deadliest attack at a domestic military installation since November 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas.


Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., was a Navy veteran and avid pilot who had been married for more than 30 years.

"I am so proud of him," said his mother, Patricia Arnold, through her tears. "He's just been a really wonderful, wonderful son. And a wonderful father and a wonderful husband."

Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., leaves behind his wife, Jolanda and their two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.

He had been building a light airplane at his home, said his uncle, Steve Hunter.

"It would have been the first plane he ever owned,'' Hunter said in a telephone interview from Rochester, Mich., Arnold's hometown. "It's partially assembled in his basement.''Arnold worked at the Navy Yard with a consulting firm that helped design vessels such as the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps.

Hunter said Arnold returned to Michigan for Labor Day to visit his 80-year-old mother, Patricia.

"He was a loving son of his mother and his wife, and great father to his kids,'' said Hunter. "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 "Marty" Bodrog, 54, was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Bodrog worked at NAVSEA as a contractor, building and buying ships after retiring from the Navy.

He leaves behind his wife of more than 25 years, Melanie, and their three daughters

The Bodrogs lived in Annandale, Va., for more than 10 years. One daughter recently graduated from Liberty University; the younger two are students at Woodson High School.

Neighbors say both Bodrog and his wife were very active in the cul-de-sac, with Marty helping out his elderly neighbors by shoveling their walkways, always donning a Boston Bruins jersey. They went on to describe him as a fantastic person and loving father.

"My knees just got weak [when I found out]," neighbor Ron Earlely said. "Everything about Marty... he was just a great guy and a wonderful husband and father."

Bodrog's family released the following statement Tuesday: "Marty was source of great inspiration to his family and friends -- those of us that we lucky enough to know Marty are better people for it."


Arthur Daniels, 51, of Southeast Washington, was a handyman working for a furniture contractor who just happened to be moving and installing furniture at the Navy Yard on Monday when the shooting began. He was the father of five children and the grandfather of nine.

Priscilla Daniels, 46, told The Washington Post she had kissed her husband that morning and teased that he should stay in bed because it was raining.

"I don't know why they shot him,'' she said. "He was a good father and hard worker.''

Every year, it was Arthur Daniels who cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the family. On weekends, he spent time washing and polishing his white Crown Victoria.

Priscilla Daniels said she and her husband loved going out on the town with their shoes shined and hair done, holding hands. They were high school sweethearts, and all four of their sons were named after Arthur Daniels.

His death comes four years after the death of their 14-year-old son Arthur A. Daniels, who was shot and killed on a Washington street.

"My husband was the man I loved through all the tragedy,'' Priscilla Daniels said. "I can't believe this is happening again.''

Arthur Daniels was the family's breadwinner. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray called Priscilla Daniels on Tuesday to offer condolences and asked if there was any life insurance, but the answer was no. The mayor said he would send a staff member to the house to discuss the family's finances.


Sylvia Frasier, 53, had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command since 2000 as a systems manager for emergency command.

"My sister was a Christian who was very giving, loving, and who would give you, truly, the shirt off her back," Bobbe Frasier said.

Her family and friends held a vigil in her memory Tuesday night, and say she loved her coworkers and considered them friends.

Frasier was airlifted from the Navy Yard after suffering a gunshot wound Monday morning.

"We went down to Lot B and that's when they pulled us to the side, took us to a room, and told us she did not survive her gunshot wound," another brother, James Frasier, told News4. "The tragedy of my sister and the other 11 families... this is something we'll have to deal with and manage day to day."

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 at NAVSEA 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.


Kathleen Gaarde, 63, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who supported the organization responsible for the shipyards.

Her husband, Douglass, said he doesn't know how he'll be able to move on, he told News4.

"Knowing her for 42, 43 years, and 38 of them married -- I've lost my life partner."

In an email to the AP Monday, he wrote that he was unable to sleep.

"Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends,'' he wrote. "We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn't fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.''

Madelyn Gaarde, of Grand Junction, Colo., who's married to Douglass Gaarde's brother, said her sister- and brother-in-law met while he was studying electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Douglass Gaarde, an Illinois native, also worked for the Navy until his retirement last year, his sister-in-law said.

"She was a very gracious person and very welcoming,'' she said of Kathleen Gaarde.


John Roger Johnson, 73, of Montgomery County, Md. left behind his wife, four daughters and 10 grandchildren. 

"My husband was a wonderful, wonderful man," his wife, Judy Johnson said. "[He] never had a bad word to say about anybody. He's going to be greatly missed by a lot of people. He was a great father, a great grandfather and just an awesome human being. I loved him very much."

His daughters said their father would have wanted them to forgive the gunman and embrace his family.

"You don't harbor ill will and his whole thing has always been about forgiving," one of Johnson's daughters said Tuesday. 


Mary Knight, 51, worked as a civilian employee in IT at the Navy Yard. She lived in Virginia and commuted to D.C. for about five years and had also worked as an adjunct professor at a community college in Northern Virginia.

Knight was the mother of two daughters and had grown up in Fayetteville, Va. 

"She was a great patriot who loved her country and loved serving the U.S.A.," a family spokesperson told News4. 


Frank Kohler, 50, was a past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Md. As such, he proudly held the title of "King Oyster'' at the annual festival celebrating the region's signature bivalve the third weekend of each October.

"He walks around with a crown and robe and gives out candy,'' said Bob Allen, Kohler's former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland. "In fact, he was in charge of the beer stand. I used to have that job and when I left, I handed it off to him.''

The married father of two college-age daughters had driven up to the Washington Navy Yard for a meeting Monday when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen. Allen said Kohler had taken over for him as site manager for the defense contractor, but he was unsure what business his friend had at the Navy Yard.

Allen said Kohler, a graduate of Pennsylvania's Slippery Rock College, was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and an avid, though not overly skilled, golfer.

"He could probably shoot in the low 90s,'' Allen said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Bradenton, Fla. When Allen retired, Kohler picked his gift -- a gold pocket watch with the inscription, "From your friends in Lockheed Martin to help you putt into the future.''

Kohler lived on the water in Tall Timbers, Md., with his wife, Michelle, an employee at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Allen said his friend loved to boat and fish, and went on frequent hunting trips to Canada.

"A great family man, a Christian, and a great friend,'' he said. "It just doesn't seem possible. I mean, you hear about these things all the time... But when you know somebody, it just makes it all the worse... It's a huge loss for southern Maryland.''


The family of Vishnu (Kisan) B. Pandit, 61, says he was "a loving husband, father of two adult children, father-in-law, grandfather and friend."

Pandit, of North Potomac, Md., grew up in India and he moved with his family to the U.S. in 1974 to complete his graduate studies at the University of Michigan.

His family described him as kind and gentle, and said he worked as a civilian for the Navy for more than 25 years and "felt extremely privileged to have contributed to the superiority of the U.S. Navy and the country that he served."

He loved his family, friends, dog and job.

"He loved the Navy," said a friend, Nuns Jain. "He has devoted his life to the Navy for 30-plus years."


Kenneth Proctor, 46, leaves behind two teenage boys whom he loved dearly, said his ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor.

He worked as a civilian utilities foreman at the Navy Yard and had spent 22 years working for the federal government.

Evelyn Proctor, of Waldorf, Md., spoke to Kenneth early Monday morning before he left for work at the Navy Yard. It was his regular call. The high school sweethearts talked every day, even after they divorced this year after 19 years of marriage.

She was in shock about her ex-husband's death.

"He just went in there in the morning for breakfast,'' Proctor said Monday night of the building where the shooting took place. "He didn't even work in the building. It was a routine thing for him to go there in the morning for breakfast, and unfortunately it happened.''

Evelyn Proctor said she tried to call her ex-husband throughout the day and drove to the Navy Yard on Monday afternoon, fearing the worst.

After waiting for about three hours alongside other relatives concerned about their loved ones, she was informed around 8 p.m. that he was among the dead. Officials did not detail the circumstances of his shooting, she said.

The Proctors married in 1994 and divorced this year. Their older son, Kenneth Proctor Jr., 17, enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school this spring and is in basic training in Oklahoma. Their younger son, Kendull Proctor, is 15.

"We were still very close. It wasn't a bitter divorce,'' Evelyn Proctor said. "We still talked every day, and we lived 10 minutes away from each other.''

Kenneth Proctor was born and raised in Charles County, Md., where he lived until his death.

"He loved the Redskins. Loved his kids -- a very loving, caring, gentle person. His kids meant a lot to him,'' Evelyn Proctor said.


Ridgell, 52, of Westminster, Md. worked as a security guard at the Navy Yard and coached a softball team in his spare time. 

He had spent 17 years as a Maryland State Trooper, until 2000 when he resigned as corporal, according to the Carroll County Times. He had also worked as a private contractor abroad. 

Ridgell had attended every Baltimore Ravens game since 1996.

His family, including his wife and three daughters, gathered in Westminster, Md. Tuesday evening to remember him.

 "I was just really shocked," one of his daughters, Maddi Ridgell said. "When they came to the door, I came outside and just fell to the ground and cried." 

They said they knew Rigell was the victim when they heard a security guard was shot.

They said that life will never be the same without their father: "He was just very well-loved. And he loved all of us."


Gerald L. Read's son-in-law, Michael Giffin, said his family was not ready to speak yet about the 58-year-old's death.

"We're still trying to gather our thoughts,'' said Giffin, who is married to Read's daughter, Jessica. Read was from Alexandria, Va.

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