El Paso widower moves wife's funeral to larger venue after community's 'overwhelming response' to his invitation

A man who lost his wife of 22 years in the mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart extended an invitation to the public to attend her funeral, as he now has no remaining family.

On Antonio Basco's behalf, Perches Funeral Home — who is planning the service for his late wife, Margie Reckard, 63 — shared his request on their Facebook page. The post quickly went viral, and people from across the nation started to offer their condolences, send gifts and flowers to the funeral home, and commit to attend the funeral, not only to honor Reckard but also to support Basco.

According to Harrison Johnson, the funeral director at Perches Funeral Home, the response has been overwhelming.

"We're getting calls constantly, every two or three minutes," Johnson told NPR. "It really surprised us."

On Wednesday, it was announced that Reckard's services would be moved to a larger venue to accommodate the anticipated crowd. The funeral home can only hold 250 people; Johnson said that he is expecting 1,000 to arrive on Friday evening.

Two weeks after the August 3 shooting, Basco says he still finds himself waking up expecting to see his "angel” there. Out of habit, he tries to call Reckard on the phone, and finds himself staring at the front door waiting for her to walk in.

"I don't need anything," Basco told CNN. "I need her and I keep begging her to come back but I know it's impossible."

Every day, Basco, 61, visits the makeshift memorial beside the Walmart, where his wife and 21 others were killed. According to CNN, he often comes multiple times a day, and, once, slept by the white cross that bears Reckard's name.

"I can't stay away from here," Basco said.

The couple originally met in a bar in Omaha, Nebraska, where Basco had just quit riding rodeo, and immediately became inseparable. They hopped on a train with just a backpack between them, traveled around the country, and settled in El Paso three years ago.

Basco said the bond with his wife was "magnificent," and that he "never felt anything like that" in his life.

"Every second, every breath... has been a wonderful life," he said.

While Basco says he is not yet ready to learn to live without his wife, he is thankful for what the community of El Paso, and beyond, has done for him.

Carlos Armendáriz, an El Paso broadcast journalist, has set up a GoFundMe for Basco, which has already surpassed $25,000. On Wednesday, Armendáriz had lunch with Basco and set up a bank account, to which all the money will be wired.

"He said his wife would’ve loved to see what the community is doing for him," Armendáriz wrote.

"If it wasn't for all of these people, I don't know how I would make it," Basco said.

Visitation for Margie Reckard will be held at the La Paz Faith Center, on Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Reckard will be laid to rest at Restlawn Cemetery at 9 a.m.

Perches Funeral Home says cards for Basco can be sent to them at 4946 Hondo Pass Drive, El Paso, TX 79924, and they will deliver them directly to Basco.

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