THE STODDARDS

Retired couple were in line of fire; he's dead, she's wounded

2011-01-09T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:43:03Z Retired couple were in line of fire; he's dead, she's woundedRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 09, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Dorwan and Mavanell Stoddard visited 28 countries and all 50 states during their annual summer trips.

Saturday, the Tucson retirees traveled just one mile from their northwest-side home to meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a "Congress on Your Corner" event outside a Safeway supermarket.

They were standing in line when a gunman, later identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, reportedly began shooting a semiautomatic weapon.

Dorwan Stoddard, a church volunteer known for his ability to fix things, was among the six dead, his friends and pastor confirmed Saturday night. Mavanell was shot in the legs but is expected to recover. The couple, believed to be in their mid-70s, were among the victims taken to University Medical Center.

Mike Nowak, the Stoddards' minister at Mountain Avenue Church of Christ, described the couple as generous and church-minded.

Dorwan Stoddard performed maintenance at the church and organized the benevolence committee, a group that reached out to the less-fortunate, Nowak said. A former construction worker, he liked working with his hands.

"He always gave of himself and never asked for anything in return," Nowak said.

Mavanell, who went by "Mavy", was at his side for weekly services.

Those closest to the Stoddards struggled Saturday with the news. Dorwan and Mavy were sweethearts at Amphitheater High School, friends said, who reconnected 15 years ago after their spouses died. Friends said both had several adult children from their first marriages.

They married in Las Vegas and were avid travelers, leaving Tucson every April, just as the weather got hot, and returning in October.

The Stoddards often went with friends Burl and Frankie Williams to their cabin in Pinetop; there, the couples fished and played dominoes and cards in the cool weather.

"They were our special friends," Frankie Williams said.

The Stoddards were among the first people to visit Frankie, 85, when she underwent hip surgery last month.

"They were in our house three days ago," she said. "This is such a tragedy for us to think about our personal friends at the wrong place at the wrong time. They were hit by a gunman not because they were enemies of his, but because it was just one of those sad things."

Williams said she's confident that Mavanell will recover.

"She's a very strong person," she said. "With the help of those of us who love her, she'll get through it."

Nowak, the Stoddards' pastor, said he's struggling to explain how two of his most dedicated worshippers ended up in the middle of a shooting spree.

"You can't," he said. "We live in a world that is full of crime, full of hatred. You can ask yourself the question 'Why?' but there's never an answer when it hits so close to home."

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