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Mary Sherlach, CT School Shooting Victim, Looked Ahead to Next Stage of Life

Sherlach was school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the site of a deadly shooting rampage on Friday.

WEST DEPTFORD, NJ -- Mary Sherlach looked forward to spending more time on Owasco Lake during her retirement. 

She and her husband, Bill, owned a cabin along the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. 

Mary Sherlach was one year away from retirement. 

But on Friday morning, her life ended in the second most deadly school shooting in American history. 

Sherlach, 56, was school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, where a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. The gunman, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed his mother, who was a teacher at the school, according to reports. He died in the rampage at the school, bringing the death toll to 28. 

Sherlach, who lived in Trumbull, CT, had worked at the school for more than 20 years, said her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, a freelance writer who covers high school sports for Patch in South Jersey. 

Schwartz said by telephone Friday night that he and his wife, Maura, first learned of the shootings Friday morning after receiving a panicked phone call from Maura's sister, Katy. 

"She was saying, 'Turn on the news, turn on the news,'" Eric Schwartz recalled. 

At first, the couple was hopeful when a report indicated that only one person at the school had been shot, in the foot. But the news quickly turned grim. 

Broadcast reports confirmed that the school's principal and psychologist had been killed in the shootings. 

"It was a really helpless feeling," recalled Eric Schwartz, 28. "For about an hour, you try to say, 'They got it wrong, they got it wrong.'"

Eric and Maura Schwartz immediately drove to Connecticut from their home in Deptford, NJ. 

"I still don't think anyone's fully grasped it," Eric Schwartz said from the Sherlach family's home Friday night. "It still doesn't feel real. It's hard to wrap your head around it."

The family was still waiting for more details about the shooting that took Mary Sherlach's life, he said. 

'She wanted to help'

Mary Sherlach enjoyed her work at Sandy Hook, especially when she could get through to a struggling student.  

"She wanted to help kids get over their problems and go on to be successful," Eric Schwartz said. 

Mary Sherlach was an avid Miami Dolphins fan, and she could easily get riled up during a game, especially when her team wasn't performing well, her son-in-law recalled. He took good-natured ribbing from her for being a Buffalo Bills fan. 

"She was very sharp and she had a very nice sense of humor," Eric Schwartz said. "She was opinionated, but in a good way."

Now, Eric Schwartz said, Mary Sherlach's family is left to ponder all the what-ifs. 

"It’s not fair that she never gets to hold a grandchild. She went from getting up and going to work like any other day, to ... gone."

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story spelled Katy Sherlach's first name incorrectly.)

Tony Marini December 17, 2012 at 07:23 PM
After reading the above coments concerning the why and why nots of gun owenership and their various uses. The one thing I did not see mentioned is the difficulty of hiting a target moving or stationary when being fired upon by one or multiple persons. There are problems and there are counter measures. Both have their own set of ressponsibilites
Mayberry December 17, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Same way Gore and Pelosi and Reid do it. Do ya really want to go there? I have a great idea. Let's borrow money and it will fix the problems with guns. It solves all of our other problems now so let's do more of it. Let's test your liberalism. If the kid was caught and put on trial, would you support the death penalty for him or should we lock him up for 50 years with free cable, health insurance and 3 squares a day and try and turn him into a better member of society? How many murders in Chicago under Democrat control this year? Answer 437. Most by legal guns I'm sure.
Tim December 17, 2012 at 07:39 PM
@ njjarhead the guy at the mall did nothing again what if he himself was killed by the PD?
Johnjcpa December 17, 2012 at 08:34 PM
If you're a grandparent not holding grandchildren, take some responsibility for how you raised your daughter. Talk about false outrage.
patrick December 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
To stupid. You from Mayberry. Thanks for the confirmation of my opinion. I have no need to share with you, it's obvious, to me, that your not "in charge" of many many major decisions. Go back to scrubbing pots. To Jarhead, now you see why we lump all pubs together. Republican=stupid
patrick December 17, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Mayberry, does your post infer that your pro-capital punishment? If so, are you also anti-choice? I have a feeling that your hyprocracy has no bounds. Republican=stupid
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Patrick, Tim's one of yours. That makes us even here. I could go to an occupy Wall St function and find you a ton more dumb liberals if you'd like.
Mayberry December 17, 2012 at 09:00 PM
That was amazingly intelligent! Not! Yep, Republicans are stupid but Democrats manage the country's worst cities and states and the country. When challenged on the facts, Democrats name call. With the miserable record of failures they have, I suppose what else can they do.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Tim, "what if" my Aunt had balls? She'd be my Uncle.
patrick December 17, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I don't use assult weapons to hunt, but the 2nd amendment is for "creating a militia". This includes assult weapons and armour-piercing bullets. Unless you want to challenge a military with your .22 handgun. Can we agree that we need to have background checks, even if this information is data banked by the gov't?
Mayberry December 17, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Liberals never like to answer a question because what they do doesn't solve problems. It only took 17 trillion of debt to figure it out. Nevermind, more debt is coming to continue to NOT solve any problems. If you choose to commit a crime, we will put you in jail or kill you. The choice is yours. Oh look, another murder in Chicago today, number 438! A new record. Who governs Chicago Tim, Democrats or Republicans?
Roger M December 17, 2012 at 09:24 PM
yes, i think you should qualify that -- "Henry Rollins" is an idiot (and his namesake would be appropriately appalled, i'm sure)... not only is he an idiot, he's a very offensive, nasty, and mean-spirited one... Republicans as a whole do not deserve to be lumped into his pathetic demographic... the "overfeeding women" comment should be flagged as inappropriate by anyone with a single moral fiber in their body...
patrick December 17, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Mayberry, you lost your credibility when you went '90s' on us with not. Your question was so absurd that I thought that it was retorical. I will, no the less, offer an answer. That's where the majority of people live. Over 90 % of the population live in metropolitan areas. Also, demographically, people living close to the poverty line tend to see and partake in illegal activities. By the way, the highest proportion of death, by guns, per person, is Mississippi. Yes, the white people. Common denominator-POVERTY Republican=stupid (just read these posts for proof)
patrick December 17, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Mayberry, again with the stupid. Bush, not Clinton or Obama is responsible for 11 trillion(13 trillion with your math because Bush spent a 2 trillion surpluss) of the defecit. Do a little homework. Mayberry=stupid
Mayberry December 17, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Debt on BHO inauguration day 10.6 trillion. Debt today $16.6 Trillion. Debt when GWB took office $5.4 trillion. BHO debt equals $6T in 4 years and is greater than GWB debt of $5.2 trillion over 8 years. Are you like BHO and not smart with math? keep lying to yourself! Can we get back to discussing how you plan to rid the world of murders thanks to gun laws?
patrick December 17, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Maybery, where do you get this info? fox news. google gao and search budget. Wala. 2 trillion + 11 trillion =13 trillion Yes, I'm good at this arithmetic. Now get an education. I'm having a battle of the wits with an unarmed man.
Mayberry December 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I get my information from the White House. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals table 7.1 Look at Homeboy's debt the next few years. Bush created 11T of debt? you are insane. The debt when Slick Willy left office was $5.6 Trillion up 40% over 8 years from GHWB. Debt today of $16.3 trillion less debt when BHO sworn in $10.6 Trillion. How much is that Mr. Math Wizard? http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM
NJarhead: Sorry, today's my birthday and I really didn't want to deal with the barrage of nonsense, for a while anyway. As far as the guy at the Oregon Mall with the extremely badly written 'may have' affected the outcome of this shooting by his concealed carry? Did you actually READ the article? Here's the story: He, his girlfriend and her baby heard shots, She dropped to the floor with the kid. HE hid behind a pillar and took out his weapon as he watched the gunman strike his rifle a few times (presumably having difficulty reloading). As HE tells it, it seemed a perfect time to get off a shot but then he noticed movement behind the gunman and -prudent kid that he was, opted not to shoot for fear of hitting someone innocent, ran away with the girlfriend and child. The gunman killed himself. WHERE in any of this is there any HINT that he had anything REMOTELY to do with stopping the continued carnage? There's not even a breath of a hint that the shooter saw him! So this one, single solitary guy with a concealed gun on him 'might possibly have gotten off a shot' (if he took it, that is), and THIS single incident is what you use to justify no gun regulation/licensing/stricter id laws? (which is what I'M for, btw) H'okay.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Sorry, there are better versions of the article you can read if you'd like. Perhaps there aren't more examples because there's less crime in areas that permit carry and conseal? Hmmmm. So this is the only thing I've said that you cherry picked to debate? No surprise there. These crimes are representative of the sick individual, not the tools they use to carry then out with. For every gun crime, there are thousands, that's THOUSANDS, of responsible gun owners. They don't preach about what you "need" in your home and ask that you not do the same to them.
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 10:28 PM
@jarhead--referring back to another of your earlier comments directed at me. I'd commented on someone else making a false statement about both Michael Moore and Bill Maher. I knew for a fact that the statement about what Bill Maher had said was utterly false but did not 'yet' have a link to prove whether or not the claim was inaccurate about Michael Moore. You LEAPED to the conclusion that I was supporting him, insulting the man's weight in the process. First, what on EARTH does a person's weight have to do with his/her intelligence or talent? (If that's a difficult question for you here's the answer: nothing). Secondly, in no way did I say that I 'supported' Mr. Moore. He's made some salient points over the years while other points of his I disagree with. Unlike some here my mind isn't one-track.
Joe Taxpayer December 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM
@Tim and Mayberry, not to let this go off topic any further but the 2013 fiscal year Federal Budget which began October 1 has already added $300 Billion to the debt with a record one month high of $172 Billion for November alone. For perpsective, the 12 month deficit in all of 2007 was 160 Billion and now our spending addicts in Washington do that in one month. The new Santa Claus!! http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/mts1112.pdf http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FOREIGN_HOLDINGS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2012-12-17-09-44-48 Foreign owned debt now at $5.5 trillion.
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM
'other versions'? Strange, I read an interview with the guy himself. Can't get much better than his own words, can it? I'm not one to read someone else's spin on what happened--preferring to get the actual facts right from the lion's mouth, as it were. Seemed quite cut and dried.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I never said his girth reflected his intelligence or lack there of. I also never said you supported him. I asked. I should have asked if you support Bill Maher. I've heard many uninformed, venomous comments fly out of his suck hole over the years. If either of these two were on fire, I'd "consider" putting them out with a wet chain.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 10:38 PM
There you go, cherry picking again.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Maybe you should try reading the article again: “I’m not beating myself up cause I didn’t shoot him,” said Meli. “I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself.”
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM
@Barb: not quite. I know it makes for a pithy sound bite, but since they COULDN'T USE GUNS ON BOARD they had to devise cutting weapons (ergo box cutters which are concealable) to attack the crews who either didn't fight back, or if they did were killed. Shock value kept the others in line. A bullet fired IN an aircraft would have punctured the fuselage and disintegrated the plane in mid-air which would completely defeat their purpose, so of course they needed up close and personal weapons. The prevailing thought on Airlines (back then) was that no hijacker or terrorist would kill the pilots since they'd need them to fly the planes. No one ever thought they'd train their own pilots to crash the planes into buildings. The Airlines also did not keep the cockpits locked (all changed since 9-11). Passengers back then were also far less inclined to get involved as they are now. Now we know it's either that or die--so passengers have taken down many out-of-control people. Boxcutter wielding assailants can be disarmed by unarmed people willing to risk injury. Anything, even a book or jacket or towel wrapped around an arm can be used to protect oneself from the blade. Sheer numbers can overwhelm an assailant. NOT SO with a gun. And in truth? The real 'weapons' of 9-11 were the planes themselves. THEY (and the jet fuel) are what did all the damage. So let's at least keep the facts and the truth straight for purposes of accuracy.
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 11:00 PM
@Kaitlyn--you're right. And she's being justifiably hailed as a hero, along with the principal of the school for running TOWARDS the assailant. Two very courageous and unarmed women putting themselves between their charges and danger. That takes bravery of a kind which takes my breath away--and still leaves me in tears days later. So many women killed from very young to middle-aged including the murderer's own mother. So many young lives, many more girls than boys murdered. There's a theme here but the overall feeling I get is the terror that must have been overwhelming, yet intense bravery in the face of it. Mary Sherlack was an astonishing woman as were the others who died with her. Much of our frustration is because we don't want more incredible women like her to be destroyed far too soon when we can and HAVE TO do something to stop this carnage. My heart is just aching for her family as well as for all of the others. I cannot imagine going through this.
NJarhead December 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Scotty, let me just assure you that a stray bullet merely puncturing the fuselage would not have "disintegrated" the aircraft. Having made my living in aviation, I find your uniformed analysis laughable. Especially considering the note made on getting facts in order. Another fact remains: hijackers used box cutters and that led to the murder of nearly 3000. You missed the point. That being, they will always find a way.
Scotty December 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM
General comment here folks: Those who are struggling valiantly to KEEP this topic about MARY SHERLACH are fighting a losing battle. Can we kindly stop? ALL of us? --move the comments to another topic--call it ANYTHING you want: Gun Control/Pros and Cons -- whatever, just take it away from this poor brave woman's site. We've done enough to upset her family with extraneous topics..especially the name-calling and vicious remarks tossed in superfluously. Stop! This is my last comment here.
Heather January 09, 2013 at 01:17 AM
I've read most of the comments. There is one thing in common with all of the posts. Everyone is trying to make sense out of something that makes no sense. I am truely sorry for the loss of Mary and can't imagine what her family has gone through. Thank you Mary for choosing to be a School Psychologist and making a difference in children's lives.

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