NEW ORLEANS - Her death rocked the community to its core. On Saturday, dozens honored the memory of Terrilynn Monette at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
The Jefferson Parish teacher was missing for three months before a diver discovered her body in Bayou St. John in June.
“It's been very hard,” said Monette’s mother, Toni Enclade, through tears. “Not a day goes by that I don't think of Terrilynn.”
When the California native came to New Orleans to teach, no one could have guessed it would also be the place where Monette would lose her life.
“It hurt us to come back and revisit where this all happened, but we feel in our hearts that the people of New Orleans deserve to have this memorial because we were touched by just how many people that spread love came out and supported us through this journey,” said Monette’s father, Terry Monette.
It's been a hard journey with a heart-wrenching end. Three months after she was last seen alive leaving a Lakeview bar, Monette's car was recovered from Bayou St. John with her body inside.
Her story touched complete strangers.
“It hurts, it still hurts to know that such a beautiful soul is gone,” said family friend Terry Brown.
But Saturday’s memorial service wasn't just about loss. It's about the life Monette lived and the lives she touched.
“This day is really to celebrate everything that Terrilynn has taught, not only to her students but all of us as educators. She has left footprints in education in Jefferson Parish that will last for a very long time,” said Amy Hoyle, principal of Woodland West Elementary School, where Monette taught before her death.
Hundreds of books that have been donated to Woodland West in Monette's memory. Some who attended Monette’s memorial came with children’s books in hand.
“She loved the kids to read and she always encouraged them to do so this is just a small token in her honor,” said Linda McFarland, a teacher at Reed Elementary, where Monette started her teaching career.
And just as Monette was a passionate teacher in life her family says her death continues to teach us all a lesson.
“Just to cherish your life, your loved ones. Do the best you can in everything you do because you never know [when it could end],” said Monette’s sister, Brittany.
A scholarship fund has been set up in Monette's name. You can send donations to the United Negro College Fund at 1100 Poydras Street Suite 1400.
Meanwhile, authorities continue investigating the circumstances surrounding Monette's death.