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Memorial and benefit fund

A memorial will be held 6 p.m. Monday, March 19, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center on the Yountville veterans home campus.

A benefit fund has also been established by Pathway Home to provide direct support to the victims’ families. Donations can be sent to 3 Brave Women Fund c/o Mentis, 709 Franklin Street, Napa CA 94559.

One of the three mental health workers slain Friday in Yountville was 26 weeks pregnant and about to celebrate her first wedding anniversary.

Another was a therapist who left behind a daughter and was remembered for her ability to work with troubled boys and their families.

A third had a passion for helping veterans deal with the stresses of life after combat.

An initial portrait emerged Saturday from the Yountville slayings of three professionals filled with life and committed to easing the suffering of others.

Even as friends and former colleagues awaited more details of the tragedy, they mourned Saturday the loss of Christine Loeber, 48, the executive director of the Pathway Home program at the Veterans Home of California; Jen Golick, 42, a staff therapist, and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

The three were shot to death Friday by Albert Wong, 36, an Army veteran who just weeks ago had been a resident under treatment at Pathway Home. Wong also was found dead inside the program’s headquarters in Madison Hall.

“Christine was really focused on the combat wounded and other veterans of this country,” recalled Deacon Carpenter, owner of YogaOne in Santa Rosa.

Carpenter got to know Loeber, a Napa resident, when she taught yoga classes part time at YogaOne’s former facility in Petaluma. She later taught a yoga class specifically for veterans at a Veterans Administration facility on Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa.

“She had such an ease and grace about her,” he said. He recalled her infectious smile and her ability to help people feel safe and cared for in her presence.

Gonzales Shushereba, who had been married a year ago this month, was pregnant with her first child. The baby did not survive, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday.

A Napa resident, she regularly visited her grandmother in Fairfield, said Vasiti Ritova, a friend of the family. Ritova’s sister had been a caretaker for the grandmother, and Gonzales Shushereba spoke at the sister’s funeral two years ago.

“Jennifer was the perfect granddaughter any grandmother could ask for,” said Ritova, a Daly City resident.

Her husband, T.J. Shushereba, on Saturday evening released a statement from the family: “Today we mourn the loss of our beloved Jennifer: daughter, sister, wife, and mother-to-be. Jennifer and her colleagues died doing the work they were so passionate about — helping those in critical need.

“Thank you for the outpouring of love, support, and appreciation of the beautiful person that Jennifer was, and to the first responders and authorities involved. Jennifer was adored by all who knew her and will always be remembered for her unconditional love and incredibly giving heart.”

Gonzales Shushereba’s friends wrote on a GoFundMe memorial page that the young woman had “dedicated her life to helping service men and women reintegrate and readjust to civilian life. Every aspect of Jenn’s life was dedicated to others and her caring and kind spirit was evident to everyone she met.”

Before working in Yountville, Golick had been the clinical director for the Petaluma-based Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services. Scott Sowle, the agency’s founder and executive director, called her an exceptional therapist and “one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with.”

The agency helps young males ages 12 to 17 who are struggling with substance abuse, depression, anxiety and trauma.

“The boys absolutely adored her,” Sowle said. On Saturday he received calls from parents of former clients, distraught at the news of her death.

Golick, a St. Helena resident, left Muir Wood because she wanted a job closer to home in order to have more time with her elementary school-age daughter, Sowle said.

“Her daughter was her life,” he said.

Pathway Home officials issued a statement Saturday announcing a memorial for the three women, to be held 6 p.m. Monday, March 19, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center on the Yountville veterans home campus. The organization also established a fund to provide direct support to their families. Donations can be sent to 3 Brave Women Fund c/o Mentis, 709 Franklin St., Napa, CA 94559.

On Saturday morning, two longtime friends of Loeber visited the Yountville complex and were present for a press conference held by Yountville Mayor John Dunbar and Dr. Vito Imbasciani, head of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

Maura Turner, who used to room with Loeber in Boston after college, flew in several days ago and was supposed to meet Loeber at her apartment Friday afternoon. She learned of the attack at 1 p.m. after getting dropped off at the apartment and receiving a text message from a local friend.

“She radiated goodness, she was a wonderful person,” said Turner, of Dedham, Massachusetts.

Turner was comforted by another friend of Loeber’s, Joe Lautner, of Petaluma, who also knew Loeber when she lived on the East Coast.

Turner described Loeber as an avid outdoor enthusiast who loved hiking and biking. She said Loeber loved yoga and incorporated it in her work with veterans. Loeber, who was originally from Easton, Massachusetts, was a fan of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, Turner said. The two friends met on Cape Cod in 1998.

Loeber received an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of New Hampshire and a graduate degree in social work from Boston College, Turner said.

Andrea Thomas of Petaluma met Loeber through mutual friends in the yoga community about four years ago.

“I liked her instantly,” Thomas said. “She was so friendly and warm.”

Thomas soon learned that Loeber’s full-time job then was with the Veterans Administration in Santa Rosa.

“She was just very devoted to helping and caring for others,” she said.

Loeber, who was previously married, is survived by a younger sister and her parents, who Turner said are likely to fly in soon from Massachusetts.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

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