By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
NILES, Mich. —
God gained a wonderful angel — and she was amazing.
These words describe how Julia Ramirez of South Bend felt about Millicent Morros, who was gunned down Monday morning by her ex-boyfriend John Eric Haitsma on North Fifth Street while walking to work in downtown Goshen. Haitsma then took his own life.
“She was a very dear friend and she will be missed,” Ramirez said, with tears in her eyes outside Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles Friday evening. “She was loyal and I have very few friends who are loyal like she was. It’s hard. She was amazing.”
Ramirez, a friend and former co-worker of Morros, also described her as someone who didn’t mince words and someone to go to for advice.
Ramirez was just one of many family members and friends who made the sad trip to the funeral home. Once there, those who knew Morros best shed tears and shared hugs and laughter while sharing special moments about her 48 years of life.
Another of those people was Chris Gobble of Elkhart who worked with Morros at Yoder, Ainley, Ulmer & Buckingham law office in downtown Goshen.
“She was so much fun. She loved to tease and joke. She had a great sense of humor and would say the unexpected and make you laugh,” Gobble said. “She was very down to earth and natural. She was an outgoing people person. She was loved by everyone. It’s tragic what happened.”
Dawn Fein of Niles worked with Morros at the former Sheller-Globe Plant in Niles and recalled how friends would call her “Red” because of the color of her hair.
“She was a lot of fun. We always had a lot of fun,” Fein said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her and was shocked at what happened. It’s tragic the way she died. She was nice and I liked her.”
There were neighbors who grew up next to Morros who paid their respects, including Corey Hojara of Niles. He described her as being loud and opinionated while having fun.
“She would tell you what she thought, whether it hurt your feelings or not,” Hojara said. “She didn’t worry what other people thought.”
Geneva Green of Niles was another neighbor to the family and described Morros as being a “good kid, who grew up to be special and good.”
Alan Hunt of Niles lived next door to Morros and was shocked at the family experiencing another tragic loss. He referred to a similar incident when her older sister, Valorie, was shot and killed in 1990 at the age of 26 along with her boyfriend by her ex-boyfriend, who then killed himself as police closed in.
“I cannot believe this tragedy happening twice to the same people. They are a quiet and happy people,” Hunt said. “We would play football and other sports. They raised baby deer and we would feed them. They raised rabbits and had all kinds of animals.”
And Cindy McCall of Niles went to school with her brother and described Morros as being “a sweet person,” McCall said. “She was a real sweet girl.”
Lisa Popielski and Victoria Burkhart, both of South Bend, also shared their feelings about their former co-worker.
“She was more than a trusted co-worker. She was truly a friend. We remained friends and kept in contact through the years,” Popielsksi said, with tears in her eyes. “If I hadn’t lost my job, I wouldn’t have met Millicent. Everything happens for a reason. She was great to work with.”
Dennis Butler of Elkhart was just getting to know Morros after dating her for one month. He met her family for the first time at the visitation, he said.
“She was feisty, determined and headstrong. And she was always about improving herself and couldn’t wait to finish her bachelor’s degree,” Butler said. “She lit up a room and she was a class clown.”
He said the couple was talking Sunday evening and Morros shared the story about her older sister and what happened to her. “Then she told me, ‘Tomorrow is never promised, so love who you can love today.’
“We were still sharing all the stories. I keep talking how blessed I am to have known her the short time I did,” Butler said.” I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”