Wounds beginning to heal for family
Appeal Staff Writer
There was the summer that Shelly Hachenberger went to a Colorado ranch as a little girl and broke her arm.
She didn’t want to be sent back home, so she gave her mom a 90-minute tape detailing all the wonderful things happening at the ranch, and at the very end, in the last little bit of the recording, mentioned her arm to her mother.
“She said, ‘I fell off my horse and broke my arm,'” her dad, Dave Churchey, recounted Tuesday. “‘See you at the end of summer.'”
In front of the 360 people attending his daughter’s memorial service at the Brewery Arts Center, he told of his daughter’s innate desire to love.
“That’s the kind of person Shelly was,” he said. “She did not want people to suffer.”
In a packed room, he and others spoke for 90 minutes of the 40-year-old Carson City woman, mother of two. Many of her co-workers from the Nevada Department of Corrections attended the service, as well as family, friends, classmates and even old employers.
Family sat in the first two rows, including her daughters, Claire and Nathalie, and her mother, Sharon. One of the daughters held a stuffed dog. Their father, Shelly’s former husband, Kim Hachenberger, continuously hugged his girls.
Shelly died July 20 when her former boyfriend, Chris Rasmussen, 48, shot his way into her home and killed her in her master bedroom. He then took his own life.
Churchey, speaking for he and his wife, Sharon, thanked everyone in attendance for their support, adding that it carried the family onward.
He said in the last couple weeks of her life Shelly had chosen to live not in a state of fear, but in a place of hope.
“The one little seed that is bright for us is that when her life was taken from her, she was the happiest she had been in years,” he said.
Churchey, alluding to Rasmussen, talked of cowardice. He called Rasmussen’s act “senseless, stupid and worthless.”
“Shelly Elaine’s last words were shouted at a coward,” he said. “And it was somebody she loved and somebody she tried to help.”
Pictures of Shelly hung at the entry way and inside the arts center. They show her on her 1983 graduation day from Carson High School, on her wedding day, on the beach and with her children.
Cheryl Kiseleff, Shelly’s cousin, read aloud several colorful and humorous letters Shelly wrote to her in the ’70s.
Tami Brancamp recalled meeting Shelly in the seventh grade at Carson Junior High and finding an instant friend.
Linda Chapman spoke of finding in Shelly the perfect baby sitter to watch her daughter, Lindsay. Her husband talked of her love.
Churchey depicted her as a woman who strove to do what is right, to make people smile, and to do her best with the circumstances given her. She was, her dad said, an everyday hero.
“(When you leave), please take the essence of Shelly with you because that’s what she wanted,” he said. “What a teacher, what a friend, what a mother, what a daughter, what a lady.”
n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.