At funeral for Roxbury mom and son, mourners remember a 'legacy of kindness'
ROXBURY — Kellie Ventricelli and her 15-year-old son Anthony were remembered Friday for the kindness they displayed throughout their lives, before their time was tragically cut short earlier this month.
Loved ones who gathered at St. Therese Church to bid farewell were urged by family members to embrace that caring nature as a way of ensuring the mother and son's memory would live on.
Dozens of mourners filled the church on Main Street during the funeral Mass, which came more than two weeks after police say Kellie and Anthony Ventricelli were killed at their home on March 7. Authorities believe Peter Ventricelli, 57, shot and killed his wife and son in the house on Justine Place before turning the gun on himself.
While the mood in the church Friday morning was somber, family members chose to focus on the positive impacts Kellie and Anthony had on others.
"Kellie made many friends, and the longevity of her friendships speak to her character," said Joe Voorhees, Kellie's brother. He recalled his sister's "buoyant personality, a great sense of humor accompanied by a big, infectious laugh, and a love for people and animals."
Her character had a significant influence on Anthony, who "very clearly inherited Kellie's kind nature and generosity," Voorhees said. He told attendees that the best way to honor the two is to "continue their legacy of kindness."
"Our individual and collective loss is tremendous, and we will always grieve," he said. "But we are all better people for having had Kellie and Anthony in our lives."
Tributes to the Ventricellis have continued since their deaths, both on social media and outside their house, where flowers and a Roxbury football jersey were left as memorials.
A GoFundMe page created to help with burial costs has raised more than $70,000. The page notes that the money will also help cover arrangements for Peter Ventricelli, but no details have been made public.
'We are leaning on our faith': Roxbury grieves for family lost in murder-suicide
A family friend created another GoFundMe this week to create an annual scholarship fund. The page says it will benefit Roxbury High School students who pursue a trade profession. Anthony, a sophomore at the school, had been accepted into a technical school to become a welder following his graduation, according to the site.
The page had raised more than $8,300 of its $60,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.
The support from the community mirrors how Kellie Ventricelli lived, her brother said at the Mass. She became active in charities benefiting Alzheimer's disease after her mother died from it, he said. Her obituary asks for donations to be made in her memory to the Alzheimer's Association.
She had a "soft spot" for children, Voorhees remembered, especially her son and the students at Hillside Preschool in Succasunna where she worked as a teacher's assistant.
For Anthony, whose birthday was July 4, Voorhees had one request of the assembled mourners: On Independence Day, he asked, also think of the boy who would have turned 16 this year.
"On this day, his will be the brightest star in the night sky," Voorhees said, "and it will be brighter than any fireworks."
Kyle Morel is a local reporter covering Morris and Sussex counties.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @KMorelNJH
This article originally appeared on New Jersey Herald: Roxbury NJ murder-suicide: funeral held for Ventricelli mother, son