As the evening sunlight faded, candles lit up faces grieving the violence that took the life of a neighbor, a relative, a colleague and an internationally acclaimed public-health advocate.
“As we light our candles we remember the goodness of life, and we remember how violently sometimes that goodness is taken from us,” said Gordon Whitaker of Watts Street Baptist Church as he led a vigil in Oval Park to honor Raluca Iosif.
On Oct. 6, emergency dispatchers received nearly a half-dozen calls from Iosif’s neighbors who reported gunshots on the 1000 block of Oakland Avenue in the Old West Durham neighborhood.
Police found Iosif and David Dietrich Holder both death from gunshot wounds.
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Iosif’s younger brother, who was visiting his sister for her birthday, was also shot. Razvaiya A. Iosif was rushed to the hospital where he was treated and eventually released.
Police said Holder shot Iosif, whom he had dated, and her brother, and then turned the gun on himself.
Raluca Iosif, 40, was from Romania and worked as a senior program development manager for IntraHealth International, a public health agency in Chapel Hill. While working for the agency, she helped develop health care projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia, friends have said.
Holder worked as a microbiologist at Pfizer, according to his stepfather.
Wednesday night’s vigil was organized by the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham.
After Whitaker made initial remarks, Iosif’s friends were invited to speak.
Leigh Wynne described Iosif as a beautiful person with a generous spirit.
“It’s a very sad, sad loss for all of us in the community,” said Wynne. Every day she mourns her friend. Wynne just keeps thinking about that Tuesday night when she went to Iosif’s house and saw all the police.
“And not understanding why someone brings a gun to a break up conversation,” Wynne said. “That just seems so, you can’t even believe it. It’s not fair.”
Al Sharp, who knew Iosif for 15 years, said she was “deadly afraid of guns.”
“She thought the American people were wonderful, and she didn’t know why we had to have them,” Sharp said. “Her fears were realized.”
Hazel Ryon, a friend and colleague, said simple things bring reminders of those we have lost – a smell, a song, a flower, a gathering of family and friends.
“We remember them and sometimes their memory breaks our lives like an intruder,” she said. Sometimes we cry, others we laugh.
“Either way it’s a good thing to not hold back, experience your range of emotions,” Ryon said. “But do not stop there. Give thanks for having had them in your life and acknowledge their presence as a gift.”
Dragos Calinescu, Iosif’s cousin who was visiting from Romania, thanked the crowd for gathering and remembering her.
“You made our space a little bit brighter,” he said.
After a moment of silence and some spoken prayers, Whitaker dismissed the crowd.
“Let’s go in peace. Be peace,” he said. “Share peace. Live in peace.”
Staff reporter Thomasi McDonald contributed to this report.