Hometown Honors Virginia Tech Professor

Hundreds gather at a church in the small town of Pine Mountain, Ga., where Virginia Tech language professor Jamie Bishop grew up. The 35-year-old instructor was among those killed during Monday's attacks.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Erin Sheehan's instructor was Jamie Bishop. He was shot and killed in Room 207 as he taught class. His family and friends are mourning his death in the small community of Pine Mountain, Georgia.

NPR's Pam Fessler was there.

PAM FESSLER: Three hundred people gathered for a private candlelight service Tuesday night at the First United Methodist Church of Pine Mountain, where Jamie Bishop grew up and his parents still live.

Family friend Sam Hall(ph) said the minister read from a sermon that Bishop had given at that same church 18 years earlier when he was a high school senior.

Mr. SAM HALL: And the crux of the sermon was that you never know when your time is going to come and to be prepared.

FESSLER: But people here were anything but prepared for the shock of this week's news that the 35-year-old who loved languages, art, technology and teaching had died so violently. So they're doing what many in small towns do -trying to help a grieving family through some difficult times. Pam Sewell is a teacher at Rosemont Elementary School, where Bishop's mother Geri is a counselor. She says they told the older children what happened at Virginia Tech.

Ms. PAM SEWELL (Teacher, Rosemont Elementary School): And that when Ms. Bishop got back, she was going to need a lot of hugs, and that those would be the band-aids on her heart. And then of all our fourth and fifth graders made hearts with little messages, and they're all over her door waiting on her.

FESSLER: Jamie Bishop left this community to pursue his studies at the University of Georgia, and later went to Germany as a Fulbright scholar. Along the way, he became intrigued with technology and digital art. He designed covers for books by his father Michael, a noted science fiction writer.

In 2000, Bishop went to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and got a job in information technology. That's where he met Jacques Morin.

Mr. JACQUES MORIN (Arts and Sciences Information Services, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill): Jamie was probably the happiest person you could ever find.

FESSLER: Morin says Bishop was the kind who welcomed any newcomer as a friend. He says Bishop was passionate about everything, especially his wife and cats. He moved with his wife to Virginia Tech when she got a teaching job there two years ago. Morin says they kept up their friendship.

Mr. MORIN: He was just down here a few months ago, maybe about six months ago, for a conference. So we kept in touch, we e-mailed each other. Of course, on days like this, you wish that you would have called him every day.

FESSLER: Morin last e-mailed Bishop on Monday, after he'd heard about the shooting. He wanted to make sure his friend was okay.

Pam Fessler, NPR News.

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