EL PASO, Texas - A sports-loving U.S. Army veteran killed in the mass shooting at Walmart was laid to rest Tuesday at Fort Bliss National Cemetery following a funeral mass.
Arturo Benavides, 60, was among the 22 who died Aug. 3.
Benavides and his wife of 33 years, Patricia, were shopping at the eastside store when the gunman opened fire. Arturo was killed, but Patricia wasn't hurt.
The couple met as children as they ran around at the same birthday parties. Reconnecting about two decades later, he asked her out. She was skeptical but went to a dance with him. Six months later they were engaged.
At the couple's El Paso home prior to her husband's funeral, Patricia Benavides talked to The Associated Press about her memories of their life together: Their parents toasting at their wedding with disposable cups because they didn't have enough champagne glasses; his love of watching football and gambling; the deep pride he felt for the six years he spent in the U.S. Army and additional years in the National Guard.
Her husband retired in 2013 after working for more than a decade as a driver for Sun Metro, the city's bus system. He had also worked at the hospital that's now known as University Medical Center of El Paso.
She said they didn't have children, but he was like a father to his nieces.
His sudden death -- along with deaths of the 21 other victims -- has prompted an outpouring of support and camaraderie from El Pasoans who may or may not know any of the victims. Another example of that sentiment took shape outside the cemetery, as a group of employees from El Paso Animal Services stood at one corner of the street leading to the burial grounds, while a group of employees from Sun Metro gathered at an adjacent corner.
"We wanted to come out here and just pay our respects and show our love for Mr. Benavides," said Julio Perez, a manager at Sun Metro. "We don't know what to do or what to say in these circumstances."
"He will live on through his family and friends," read a post from a family member on a GoFundMe page created to help his wife. More than $11,000 has been donated, more than doubling the $5,000 goal.
"I heard a lot of great things about him and his desire and passion to help others," Perez said. "That's why he was working here at Sun Metro. At Sun Metro you have to love people to work here."
And during the final and premature farewell, Benavides received that love in return.