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His only relative was killed in the El Paso massacre. He has invited the city to her funeral

When his wife was killed in the El Paso, Texas, shooting this month, Antonio Basco lost not only his spouse of 22 years, but also his only relative.

With no other family, Basco told a funeral home that he wanted to invite the public to attend the visitation and prayer service on Friday for his wife, Margie Reckard. The response has been overwhelming.

Less than 24 hours after Perches Funeral Homes wrote on Facebook that Basco “welcomes anyone to attend” the service, more than 50 people have called to order flower arrangements, said Jorge Ortiz, general manager of the funeral home.

The flowers and cards, as well as online tributes, have poured in from across the country. Reckard, 63, was one of 22 people killed in the shooting at a Walmart on Aug. 3, and the story of El Paso rallying around Basco is one of many to inspire an outpouring of sympathy and compassion in the aftermath of the attack. There were the parents who died protecting their 2-month-old baby, who survived; there was the soccer team that hosted a vigil for their 15-year-old teammate who was killed; there were the Walmart employees who helped shoppers flee and then helped each other deal with their trauma.

In the days after the massacre, Basco told KFOX that when he met his wife, “she was an angel, and she still is.”

He said her kindness could not be matched, and that one could see that she was “an awesome lady” simply by looking at how she acted. “We were going to live together and die together,” he said.

Photographs of Basco kneeling in front of a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles for Reckard and other victims have been widely shared across social media and by news organizations. They show him with his head resting against his forearm, his hair spilling out from under a Ford Motor cap, wearing a blue plaid shirt and a wedding band.


In an undated handout image, Margie Reckard, who was killed in the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Antonio Basco, Reckard’s husband, lost not only his spouse of 22 years, but also his only relative. (Handout via The New York Times) — NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY TEXAS SHOOTING FUNERAL BY NICHOLAS BOGEL-BURROUGHS FOR AUG. 14, 2019. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. —Antonio Basco visits at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 6, 2019. When his wife was killed in the El Paso shooting this month, Basco lost not only his spouse of 22 years, but also his only relative. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)Antonio Basco visits at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 6, 2019. When his wife was killed in the El Paso shooting this month, Basco lost not only his spouse of 22 years, but also his only relative. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)In an undated handout image, Margie Reckard, who was killed in the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas

The New York Times

Ortiz said the funeral home, in a strip mall in northeast El Paso, can hold 200 people, but is now expecting up to 1,000 mourners to arrive for Reckard’s visitation Friday evening.

“It’s just about how you organize your personnel and everyone,” he said, adding that mourners will most likely have to cycle through in batches.

In his 11 years with the funeral home, Wednesday’s Facebook post was the first open invitation to a service that Ortiz could remember. Overflow crowds have been hosted in the past, he said, but never more than about 400 people.

The funeral home’s Facebook post has been shared more than 10,000 times and elicited more than 1,000 comments. One woman wrote that she had sent flowers from Los Angeles. Another man said he would attend the visitation and represent the hundreds of people who could not make it.

Harrison Johnson, the funeral director who is handling Reckard’s visitation, told KVIA that Basco had confided in him that he didn’t really know what to do now that his wife was gone, but that he had been touched by the enormous response to the notice that all are welcome.

Reckard was born in Washington according to her obituary, which on Wednesday morning was receiving tributes from strangers every few seconds.

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