HARVARD -- "She was an extraordinary teacher who touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of young students over the years," said the Rev. Wendy Bell, of the Harvard Unitarian Church. Bell celebrated Saturday's service of remembrance for Hildreth Elementary School kindergarten teacher BarbaraAnn Gould.
Hundreds filled the Unitarian Church to capacity; overflow seating and a video link to the Unitarian Church was provided at the Harvard Congregational Church. It's estimated some 550 mourners attended Gould's funeral.
Between the two churches, the trees on the town common were festooned with pastel pink ribbons.
Gould was remembered by her husband Jefferson Gould, daughter Darby Gould, Brother Michael Vallo and brother-in-law Joshua Gould. The family gave thanks to those who lent support in the aftermath of Gould's accidental drowning death in her home hot tub on March 16. Gould was 50 years old.
Children of all ages were in attendance for the event. Gould taught at the Hildreth Elementary School since 1990. A lover of family, animals, music and food, "Her life was a gift to us," said Bell.
HES Guidance Councilor Christine Reale noted that HES students each fashioned pink leaves for a massive tribute 'tree' in honor of Gould. Reale said she quickly grew to love Gould over their 12 years working together at HES.
Reale said a former Gould student told her at school last week, "You know, Mrs. Gould went right to Heaven and God made her one of those -- what do you all them? -- oh ya, an angel."
"You said 'Hello friend' to absolutely everyone," said Reale. "BA, you have given us so many memories."
Second grade teacher Chris Snell joked that Gould, while a good friend, "was not always a nice person to me." He drew laughter by saying that the color pink was "on his hit list of the most detested colors in the world." It was Gould's favorite color. Snell wore a pink tie to the funeral.
Snell said Gould was fond of texting and calling him to chat at all hours of the night, saying that after 9 p.m., Gould harnessed "all the energy of Justin Timberlake, Ellen DeGeneres and Honey Boo Boo."
Gould changed his life; with Gould's passing, Snell said "I no longer sleep." He explained to school Principal Linda Dwight "I apologize if I was a grouch this week but I get up at 2:15 a.m." Snell said he'd labored all week on Gould's eulogy. Feigning a curmudgeonly tone, Snell touched on the characteristics that drew people to Gould.
"I liked my life the way it was until this week," said Snell. "BA's passing has changed me."
"I've started to hug people," Snell said with a sneer. Those assembled roared. "I started caring about people I didn't like. I hold doors for strangers now. At traffic circles, I let a car go in front of me. I talk about feelings and emotions and even love. BA's last evil prank was changing me. I'm not sure I can ever forgive her for that because I liked being the Grinch and she became my Cindy Lou Who.
Call friends, forgive and forget, help those in need, stop at ice cream stands and get the extra large sundaes. "Leave the kiddie cones to the demographic it was made for," said Snell. Take the long way home, wear flip flops, blast the radio, laugh, and if you're stuck on what to wear, Snell suggested "Wear pink."
Follow Mary Arata on twitter.com/maryearata.