Hundreds of mourners gathered at an east-side church Sunday afternoon to honor Dorwan Stoddard, killed shielding his wife from gunfire in the Jan. 8 shooting that left five others dead and 13 wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
In the aftermath of the attack, Stoddard, 76, described by friends as a devoted husband and tireless church volunteer, has been hailed as a hero by the public, the press and the president of the United States.
His story, how he pushed his wife Mavy to the ground and covered her body with his own, shielding her from the gunman's bullets, has been told around the world.
But one of the men who knew him best, Stoddard's pastor Mike Nowak, told an audience of about 500 that his best friend didn't become a hero Jan. 8.
Stoddard was already a hero to many, Nowak said.
Friends and family described Stoddard's service to his midtown church, Mountain Avenue Church of Christ, how we was a "Mr. Fix-It" who kept the 50-year-old building in tip-top shape while helping his wife lead the church's benevolence fund. His sons described a gentle father who never swore and loved to fish.
Nowak described Stoddard as a friend to the poor, never shying away from helping those in need.
"I hope that his legacy is not only that he gave his life, but that you've heard about the other heroic acts he's done over the past 75 years," Nowak said.