WARNER — Connors State College President Timothy Faltyn began a vigil for Melinda Shatto by speaking about the lessons Shatto left as a legacy.
“Acts of violence ... cannot trump love,” Faltyn said Monday evening, about the loss of Shatto in a murder-suicide Friday morning. “My hope is that her zest for life is an inspiration for us all.”
Shatto, 37, was killed by ex-boyfriend Charles Dickson, 48, while her 7-year-old daughter was in her home. Her daughter was not injured.
Dickson then turned the gun on himself, police officials said.
Shatto’s family held candles and clung to one another, surrounded by friends at Connors State College during the vigil.
The vigil was held by Shatto’s fellow Phi Theta Kappa members and officers in memory of the woman they said was a “wonderful mother and a wonderful friend.”
Jolene Armstrong, CSC librarian, is the school’s PTK adviser. Armstrong, who was overwhelmed with emotion while talking about her friend, said Shatto will be sorely missed.
“Mel was a fun-loving person,” Armstrong said. “She made friends easily, was a very outgoing, happy person. She was kind. She never said a mean word about anybody.”
“She was a wonderful person. This shouldn’t have ever happened,” Armstrong said. “It’s just so senseless.”
PTK Chapter President 2011-2012 Jeff Sweeten said Shatto was someone he worked closely with and admired.
“She was very tenacious, very opinionated — in a wonderful way,” Sweeten said. “She was always trying to improve her life and everybody’s life around her.”
Lynne Harry, a CSC student and PTK member who said an Osage prayer for Shatto during the vigil, said she and Shatto were very close.
“I came to school after being out 20 years, and I needed a second chance at life,” Harry said. “I met Melinda as I was moving into housing, and I found she was Native American too. And then I found out her daughter was the same tribe as I am. We had a lot in common.”
Harry and Shatto became fast friends, especially when Harry helped convince Shatto to go to college full-time.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to be the only old chick in class,’” Harry said, laughing and wiping away a tear. “One day I walked into housing, and she said, ‘Tomorrow is my last day. I’m going to do it.’”
Harry said her prayer for Shatto at Monday’s vigil was special.
“I’m giving her a prayer and a poem to honor her as my native sister,” Harry said.
Even those who didn’t know Shatto well said she impacted their lives in a positive way.
Raven Coward of Wyoming came to Warner for the memorial vigil because she met Shatto at a PTK National competition and they became friends.
“She was just a caring person,” Coward said.
Coward remembers Shatto as a fun person too.
“When I met her on the bus, she said, ‘Bless your heart,’” Coward said, smiling. “Then she told me it was a southern way of telling people they’re a little crazy.”
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The funeral for Melinda Shatto is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Antioch Baptist Church in Stigler under the direction of Mallory-Martin Funeral Home.