Pa. Town Says Good-bye To Slain Teacher He Was Remembered For His Devotion. A Student, 14, Is Charged.

Posted: April 29, 1998

EDINBORO, Pa. — Silence fell across the crowded fieldhouse when the closed, copper-colored casket was wheeled inside, the broad hush broken only by the cry of a single small child.

Inside was the body of John Gillette, an exacting and admired science teacher, a builder of fireplaces and children's dreams, a man devoted to the Catholic Church and the Cleveland Indians. He had been shot to death in front of his students at a school dance Friday night, his accused killer a 14-year-old boy.

Yesterday, about 3,700 of Gillette's colleagues, friends and family packed a college basketball arena to say good-bye, several of them speaking as if he were still alive.

``John's a `difference-maker,' '' friend Ron Rudler told those gathered at the funeral Mass. ``He brings out the absolute best in everyone he's ever touched. He did it with his work. He did it with his students. He did it with his family.''

Gillette, 48, was shot in the face and back toward the close of the James Parker Middle School's eighth-grade graduation dinner dance, held at a local banquet hall called Nick's Place. Police immediately captured and charged 14-year-old Andrew Wurst, who is being held without bail.

Yesterday, students also came to mourn Gillette - some weeping, others stoic - as they filed into McComb Fieldhouse on the campus of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

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