With tears flowing freely, more than 350 people came together Wednesday to remember the life of Virginia Nicole Hall, who died last week. Hall, 20, who went by the name, Niki as a child and teenager, died July 11, and was remembered at a funeral Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Payson. Among those who attended were Hall's former classmates, friends and relatives.
Rev. William L. Gyure said, "God can now bring Niki everlasting peace in her new life."
The eulogy was given by Marc Haines, Niki's brother.
Haines asked the audience to look around the room. He only knew some of the people, he said, but all knew his sister.
"Everyone of you has interacted with Niki in (some way)," Haines said.
The huge turnout is a testament to the type of person his sister was, he said. His sister was born three months prematurely and was extremely small, he said as he used his hands to show how small she had been.
He said he could have never known someone so small could make such a huge impact in the lives of others. He said there were many people in the audience who held Niki when she was an infant.
"When she learned to talk, we could not shut her up," he said. "When she learned to walk, we could not keep her from going where she wanted."
He said Niki loved to play softball and swim, and her passion was all-terrain vehicles. He said his sister was a free spirit.
In his eulogy, Haines thanked Payson Police Sgt. Tom Tieman for keeping the family informed of what was happening in Scottsdale where Niki's body was discovered. He thanked other police agencies, calling them nothing short of wonderful.
"Niki was a rebel, a friend and a goof, and she saw the good in all of us," her brother said. "She was a fighter with a heart of gold.
"She fought to live when she was born and fought very hard not to die."
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