Amanda Gerber, graduation from nursing school - 1997

March 18, 1977 – November 28, 2000

From Amanda's Mom Lorri

Amanda was born during the worst spring snowstorm that I can remember.  The first time I saw her, I knew that she was special.  I knew, at that moment, that Amanda was the reason that I was born.  She was everybody’s dream child.  My friends and family used to kid me that there must have been a mix-up at the hospital where she was born; they gave me the wrong baby.  She was the happiest child, always smiling.  At night I would watch her sleep and sometimes she would get this little smile on her face.  The nurses at the hospital where she was born told me that meant that the angels were playing with her. Maybe they were right.  

Amanda and her Aunt Shari
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Amanda walked and talked very early.  She was reading and writing by the time she turned four.  She loved playing with her baby dolls and being the “mommy”.  At a very young age (14), Amanda decided she wanted to become a nurse, just like her Bubby and Aunt Beth.  On a birthday visit out to Tucson, Amanda asked Aunt B. if she could come and live with her when she graduated from nursing school.  Aunt B. said "of course. "

Amanda excelled in school.  Always concerned with doing her best, she considered school “her job”.  I never had to ask her if she had homework, she just came home and did it.  Amanda graduated from Fallsburg Central High School in June 1995.  She was accepted into the nursing program at a number of colleges, but choose to go to Sullivan County Community College, which was close to home.  During Amanda’s senior year of high school she volunteered at the local hospital as a candy striper - she loved it.  Amanda entered college in September of that year.  She was so excited; loving every minute of what she was learning.  

When winter break came, Amanda decided to take a class so that she might get ahead in the program.  Amanda forged ahead, not taking any time from her studies; she graduated with her RN in two years - she was just 20.  She couldn’t wait to get to work.  I don’t think that I could have been prouder of her.  Amanda left for Tucson, Arizona that July.  She went to live with her Aunt Beth.  We missed each other terribly.  But I knew that Amanda was ready to make her mark on the world.  She had family there and the opportunities of a lifetime.  

Amanda got her first job not too long after getting to Tucson.  She was given the chance to be trained as a nurse in a transplant unit at University Medical Center.  She couldn’t have been happier.  That is where Amanda was still working when this horrible thing happened.  

She met another nurse from N.Y., Sharon, they became fast friends.  A few months later, Sharon and Amanda became roommates.  They roomed together for 3 years.  And they still were, on that day.  Amanda and Sharon made plans for the future.  They were both going back to school.  They were both moving back east.  I could not have been happier at that news.  Amanda had decided that she would go up to Vermont to school to become a nurse practitioner.  That will never happen now.  

 

Amanda & Ian, December 1998

Amanda has an 11-year-old brother, Ian.  She also has 6 stepbrothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews too.  But Amanda had a very close and special relationship with her brother Ian.  She helped me raise him.  She was with me from the time I found out he was on the way.  She was even there when he was born.  We both loved him and nurtured him.  It’s funny, but when I was young I used to call my older brother, Steven, just "Brother".  Well, Ian called Amanda, just "Sister".  Amanda spent a lot of time with her brother Ian as he was growing up.  When she left for Arizona, he was lost.  Ian and I went out there for Amanda’s first holidays.  We had a great time.  We saw each other at least three or four times a year.  

A couple of years ago, we all met in Fort Meyers, Florida.  We had the best 11 days.  We spent our days at the beach and in the evenings we ate out and went back to the beach just to walk.  It is one vacation none of us will ever forget.  

Amanda was the first child, first grandchild and first niece.  Amanda was very close to her grandparents, Bubby Arline and Poppy Stanley.  Amanda was the light of Poppy’s life.  Two day’s wouldn’t go by without her calling her Bubby and Pop.  When they became ill, Amanda would fly in to see them and spent time with them.  This tragedy has taken its toll on Bubby and Poppy.  My father cries every day.  He misses his Amanda, and so does Bubby. 

Amanda's college graduation party
Meridith, Amanda holding Alysse, Mikal, Matthew
Ian, Alex, Bubby, Poppy & Jesse
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Amanda had been home in September to visit and we made plans for me to go out to Tucson.  I was out there November 9 – 19th.  As usual, once I got home, we called each other at least three times a day just to see what was up.  I hadn’t spoken to Amanda on Monday.  She had been working over the weekend and we would have called each other on Tuesday, just like always.  I went to work Tuesday at the high school.  I was in a classroom when “the CALL" came.  I was told that Amanda was missing.  I dropped the phone and ran out the door.  I went to the elementary school to pick Ian up and take him home with me.  My husband, Roger met me at the door.  Beth was on the phone.  I couldn’t get a flight out until Wednesday morning.  I left for Tucson first thing in the morning.  

When I got there, Beth was waiting.  I could see the look on her face.  What had happened?  We went into an office where the police were waiting for me.  That was when I died.  That was when I knew my Amanda was gone.  The police told me that they found her in the desert.  She had been MURDERED!  

It seems that Amanda and Sharon had rented some movies and when they were finished watching them, Amanda decided to return them.  It was about midnight.  She left the apartment and told Sharon that she would stop and get the mail when she got back.  That never happened.  Amanda did return the movies, but that was as far as she got.  Amanda was car jacked by two 18-year-old animals.  She gave them her car, her money and credit cards, even her ATM #.  I guess it just wasn't enough.  They took her to the desert and shot her in the back, twice, and then they shot her in her face.  The cowards couldn’t even look her in the face.  

I saw her a few days later.  She looked so peaceful, just like she was sleeping.  But, I knew better.  I will never be able to phone my Amanda again.  I can’t touch her, hug her or smell her hair after a shower again.  My Amanda will always be young and beautiful.  I miss her every day and night.  I feel as though I have lost a part of my body.  

Amanda and Lorri, in NYC, on Amanda's 23rd birthday, 3/18/00
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I love you from the sky to the ground, my Miss Amanda.  I miss you more every passing day.  You will forever be in my heart.  MOMMY

I go and see Amanda every day and cry.  How can I believe that the love of my life is lying in the ground?  How can I believe that this gentle young woman would be harmed by anyone?  I ask myself every day, how is this possible?  I just can’t believe it’s true.  If I may, I would like everyone to know that my family and I have started a scholarship fund in Amanda’s name.  If you would like to make a donation, you can e-mail me for the address.

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From Amanda's Aunt Randy

How do I begin to tell you about Amanda?  An angel from the day she was born.  Our families hero as she grew.  A child that was more mature and logical then most adults I knew.  A child with foresight like I have never seen before.  Amanda knew what she wanted out of life at a very early age.  She wanted to help people.  She never had a very social life.  Mostly into her studies.  She had made a plan for herself and had followed it all the way through.  Well, almost all the way through.  

Amanda and her Aunt Randy
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When Amanda graduated high school she didn’t take any time off like most of us.  She went straight on to college and earned her RN degree in two years.  Not long after graduation from college, Amanda went out to Tucson, Arizona to pursue her career.  She found a job at University Medical Center as a nurse on a new transplant unit.  She loved it.  She used to tell me about the procedures she observed and the people she took care of.  It was meant to be.  That’s what she was meant to do. She was always so attentive to her grandparents who have as many health problems as people can have.  Over time, when Bubby or Poppy became ill, Amanda flew home to take care of them.  Outside of her mom, they were the most important people in her life.  She grew up with the strength of her Bubby, the courage of her mother, and the humanity of everyone else who touched her life.  She took something from everyone in her family.  She was strong and sweet, honest and courageous.  Amanda dealt with every obstacle that came along and learned from it.

   

Amanda and her cousin Mikal
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When I received the call on November 27, 2000, I just couldn’t believe it.  I was told that Amanda had not returned home the night before after returning videos to a nearby store.  I knew that something was terribly wrong.  This was not Amanda.  Always calling to let people know where she was and where she was going.  The following day, from what I understand, the police located her car with two 18-year-olds driving it.  When I heard they had found firearms in the car, I knew that Amanda was no longer with us.  What I have learned is that she was carjacked, robbed and taken to the desert and shot to death.  On the plane we went.  Back home to help console our parents and wait for Amanda and her mom to get home.  The days leading up to her burial were the hardest days I have ever had to deal with in my life.  The obituary, the arrangements, the differences within the family.  Seeing Amanda, feeling her, kissing her and saying goodbye to her was the hardest feat I have ever been made to deal with.  

Amanda and her Poppy, with Puffy
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Her grandparents managed to stay standing through it all.  There were times when I didn’t believe they would make it.  They were so fragile and frail.  The shock of it all.  Not Amanda.  It just couldn’t be.  But we all saw her and were made to believe that this was reality and not a bad dream we would awake from. 

 

There will be a trial coming up and we will be there if at all possible.  Our family will not rest until justice is served.  To us, there is no justice at the end.  The only justice that could possibly be accepted is to have Amanda given back to us.  I can feel her in my heart and I can even hear her every now and then but it’s just not enough for me.  I cry for my family and what we have lost.  I cry for society and what has been taken away from them.  A nurse that cares so much for those in need.  A daughter with unconditional love for her mom and dad.  A sister that would fight and scream and hug and kiss all at the same time.  A niece that had become a friend.  A cousin that was a mentor to those younger than she.  A person that had so much to give and so little time to do it in. 

 

Amanda, I can honestly say that you are a shining star now and will always be one.  There is a star named for you and registered and you will always shine bright as you always have.  Amanda, you are with me today and forever.  I will keep your spirit alive in my heart for as long as I live and will try to pass onto my son all that was good within you.  That was everything.  I love you more today then ever.  

Aunt Randy

Link to an article about a friend remembering Amanda

 

Miss Amanda's STAR
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