Preschool teacher and her mother among Farmington shooting victims - Albuquerque Journal

Preschool teacher and her mother among Farmington shooting victims

Community members hold candles during a vigil at Hills Church Farmington on Monday. (Jon Austria/Albuquerque Journal)

Bonnie Kennedy got a text message from Melody Ivie on Mother’s Day: “I’m coming over.”

“She didn’t say, ‘Can I come over?’ She says ‘I’m coming over,'” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the 73-year-old, known for her gregarious pop-ins, showed up minutes later with a geranium that was “bright, bright red and just gorgeous.”

“And she sat and we talked, and I really enjoyed her,” Kennedy said. “I’m thankful that our last togetherness was so enjoyable.”

Kennedy, a longtime friend and fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was one of many community members touched by Ivie’s generosity.

Gwendolyn Schofield (Courtesy of family)
Melody Ivie (Courtesy of family)

Less than 24 hours after that visit, Ivie and her mother, Gwendolyn Schofield, 97, were on their way to pick up a grandchild from school when they were both fatally shot.

Shirley Voita, 79, was also fatally shot, but her family could not be reached Tuesday. A woman wrote of Voita on Facebook, “one of the sweetest most compassionate people ever. She loved her family and friends with her whole heart.”

Shirley Voita (Courtesy of family)

The shooter, Beau Wilson, 18, also shot and injured several others — including two officers — before being killed by police near a church.

“I don’t hate the shooter but it was very unfair, he took a valuable person away from us, and all the little children that loved her and could love her,” Kennedy said of Ivie, a mother of several children who also taught thousands of Farmington-area kids over the years.

‘Loves unconditionally’

State Rep. Mark Duncan, R-Kirtland, whose wife is Ivie’s niece, said Ivie has operated the Ivie League Preschool, which is just a few blocks west of where the shooting happened, since the early 1980s.

“She just teaches and loves unconditionally,” Duncan said.

Duncan said his wife, who is a nurse, was the first to get the alert that there was an active shooting in south Farmington. She started calling her mother and other relatives to see if they were safe.

“They started calling Aunt Melody to make sure she was OK, and they didn’t get an answer,” Duncan said.

Duncan said his wife at one point drove to her aunt’s house and found her cousin. Together, they started a frantic search for Ivie and her mother, before learning their loved ones had died.

“She would have been the very first to put her arms around (the shooter) …,” Duncan said as his voice trailed off. “Both of them would. And from what I understand about the other woman, she would do the very same thing. These were three just stalwart members of our community and members of our family.”

Ivie’s daughter said the family didn’t want to release additional statements.

Ivie and her mother both teachers, both generous

Both Ivie and her mother, Gwendolyn Schofield, were active members of the church in the Farmington area. Duncan said, “These are women whose whole entire life was devoted to their family, to their church and to their community.”

Kennedy, who is in her early 70s, said she met Ivie when she joined the church in 1977. She said Ivie was “very, very sweet, overly sweet.”

“It was like she never saw any negativity in anybody,” Kennedy said. “I don’t even think she would squish a bug if she could.”

She said she met Schofield in the last decade and the two, both widows, would call to check in on each other every day at 10 a.m. Kennedy said she has an alarm set for 9:45 a.m. — she still hasn’t turned it off.

She said Schofield called her at their scheduled time on Monday and told her they were going to get their nails done. Soon after, neighbors burst into her home yelling “lock your doors, he’s in the neighborhood, he’s killing people.'”

“Of course I went fanatical, I called to warn Melody. … She didn’t answer the phone, she probably was already gone,” Kennedy said.

It wasn’t long after that she learned both were dead.

“I was trembling. I wasn’t cold but it was such a shock that I was just shaking all over,” she said. “I love the both of them. they were just wonderful people.”

Nathaniel Ortiz, center, of Farmington leads a group prayer during a vigil at Hills Church Farmington, N.M. on Monday, May 15, 2023. (Jon Austria/Albuquerque Journal)

Kennedy said Ivie followed in her mother’s footsteps; Schofield had been a teacher for over 40 years. She said Schofield lived in an apartment beneath Ivie’s home.

The pair would walk a circular path in the backyard for hours, talking, while Ivie’s two large dogs followed along. She said Ivie would host dinner for family and friends on Sunday where she would show off her cooking prowess.

Kennedy said the Ivie household was so immaculately clean “it was kind of uncomfortable to go in there, you’re afraid you’d bring in some dirt.”

When Kennedy was struck with health problems, Ivie and Schofield were there — even when she wasn’t in the best mood.

“I have been, excuse the expression, a royal bitch, but Melanie overlooked it,” she said. “She kept coming around, she kept being sweet. ‘Can I do anything for you?’ She was wonderful.”

Ivie regularly visited Kennedy when she was in the hospital for months, she cleaned out the cupboards of rancid food after Kennedy’s husband died, and Schofield paid the electric bill when Kennedy couldn’t make ends meet.

“Sometimes it was like she had radar, and I didn’t have to say a thing,” she said, tearing up. “… I’m really missing them. Both of them.”

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