HERCULES (CBS SF) – Hundreds of mourners packed a church in Rodeo Friday morning to celebrate the life of retired teacher Susie Ko, 55, who was violently stabbed to death in her Hercules home on Oct. 5.

Ko’s family, friends, colleagues, former students and city leaders gathered inside St. Patrick’s Church, located on the campus where she taught kindergarteners and second-graders for more than a decade.

As the ceremony got under way, the Rev. Larry Young asked attendees to pray “for an end to all violence and to all hatred.”

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

Married Southern California couple Darnell Washington, 24, and Tania Washington, 25, were arrested in connection with the killing earlier this month in SeaTac, Wash. after police spotted them in Ko’s stolen blue Subaru.

The couple is being held in Washington on suspicion of murder in addition to pending charges stemming from the pair’s alleged crime spree that included a jailbreak in San Bernardino, the shooting of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and the multiple carjackings across California.

Police have not said what led the couple to Hercules or disclosed a motive in Ko’s killing.

Family members who spoke during the service remembered the Hong Kong native as a loving wife, mother and teacher who dedicated her life to helping and guiding others.

“My mother’s calling in life was to care for others with the utmost consideration,” Sandra Ko, 32, the eldest of Ko’s children, told attendees Friday morning. “She didn’t care about taking credit — for her it was about making a real connection with other people.”

That level of care extended to her 13 classes of students at St. Patrick’s School in Rodeo as well as to her husband, four children and granddaughter.

Sandra Ko recalled how her mother came to stay at her London home for a month around the time of her granddaughter’s birth to help out, cooking meals and staying by her daughter’s side as she adapted to the challenges of motherhood.

After returning to the United States, Ko would read bedtime stories to her baby granddaughter via Skype, her daughter said.

“She was very serious about being the best grandmother she could be, and this is the way she approached every aspect of her life,” she said.

Mourners wiped away tears as Susie Ko’s husband, Kelvin Ko, described how he met his late wife as a teen in San Francisco 40 years ago, how the couple married when Susie Ko was 21 years old and bought a house in Hercules where they would raise their four children.

“There was a lot of fun in my house,” he said, recalling how he and his wife not only looked after their own children, but often their friends’ and neighbors’ kids as well.

Susie Ko cared for her family up until her last hours, leaving a homemade smoothie on the kitchen counter for her husband, which he only found after entering the home with police after his wife’s murder.

Kelvin Ko thanked mourners Friday for their overwhelming support since news broke of his wife’s violent death.

Hundreds of pieces of yellow and pink paper with community members’ messages of condolence printed from a Facebook page and from a website created by the Ko family, welovesusieko.com, were strung up around church walls and pews Friday morning.

Ko’s death marks the first murder in Hercules since 2010.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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