Professor, daughter killed in Va. house fire remembered - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Professor, daughter killed in Va. house fire remembered on Gallaudet campus

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They are remembering a beloved teacher and her teenage daughter on a college campus in the nation's capital. Both were killed in a mysterious house fire in northern Virginia this week. And both were part of the daily life at Gallaudet University in the District.

It seems nearly everybody we met at Gallaudet Thursday knew professor Laura Snyder-Gardner and her daughter Mary Ann, a junior at the high school for the deaf on campus. Through sign language, they expressed dismay at the deaths.

With style, they're celebrating the two women's lives.

Just about everywhere you look on the Gallaudet campus, students are wearing pink and yellow - a tribute to math professor Snyder-Gardner and 16-year-old Mary Ann Gardner.

"Pink and yellow were my mother and sister's favorite colors," explained Jimmy Gardner, son and brother of the victims. "And I think it really speaks for itself. What an impact both of them had on people here on campus."

Gallaudet is a university for the deaf and hard of hearing, consisting of 1,500 students in Northeast Washington.

"She was a wonderful teacher," says sophomore Micah Kothe of Pennsylvania. "She helped me so much. If it were not for her, I would not nearly have the skills in math that I do now."

Fairfax County fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire that consumed the ranch-style house on Manor Road in Falls Church where mother and daughter were killed before dawn Wednesday.

"As of right now, we are working with the authorities just to figure out what really happened," says Jimmy Gardner.

He is a Gallaudet University graduate and head coach of Model Secondary School for the Deaf's football team. The high school is on the Gallaudet campus. Mary Ann was a student there.

"My mom was an amazing person," adds Jimmy. "She was a brilliant, well-educated person. She never gave up. She was always working so closely with all of her students. She was always there for them."

Some have left flowers at the door to her office.

"You know (as a first year student), I thought she was going to be a real strict teacher because everyone says the teachers are real strict here at Gallaudet," says junior Krishun Rhone of Houston, Texas, who was wearing a pink blouse and yellow earrings. "But she came into the class with a big smile on her face. Such a lovely heart."

Dr. James Nickerson is chairman of the university's math department. We spoke to him also with help from a sign language interpreter.

"You know she was a very positive person," he says. "Very energetic in terms of her approach. You know she approached every day and every task with pure joy that came right from her heart."

Mary Ann Gardner's friends are also in mourning.

"She loved watching wrestling," says team member and Gallaudet senior Richard Dahan. "She was at every single match. Even if the game was away or the match was a two-hour drive away, she was always there rooting the team on. I never saw her distressed or upset. Just supported everyone. Everyone loved her."

Family members tell us Laura Snyder-Gardner's oldest child, a son, is serving in the U.S. military and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are told he is heading home to help make funeral arrangements.


Laura Snyder-Gardner and Mary Ann Gardner Scholarship Fund

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