HARMONY – The night Ralph Bagley learned that his daughter, Amy, was valedictorian of Dexter Regional High School, he pulled her to his side and told her he was proud of her.

“She said, ‘Dad, there were other kids that were smarter than I was, but they didn’t put the effort into it,”‘ Ralph Bagley said Thursday at his home in Harmony.

Amy Bagley Lake’s parents still have the gold medal, preserved in a frame, that she received for graduating first in her class in 1991.

Her mother, Linda Bagley, has saved mounds of her daughter’s items: a sweatshirt from the University of Maine at Farmington, where she graduated with a 3.93 grade point average; red and white gloves and a winter hat that she wore to games in Dexter; and a white shirt with blue lettering that she earned at Maine Dirigo Girls State.

Amy Lake’s parents and brothers, Jeff Bagley, 41, of Parkman and Rob Bagley, 35, of Fairfield, spoke publicly for the first time since Lake and her two children were shot to death Monday in their home in Dexter by her estranged husband, Steven Lake, 37, of Wellington, who then killed himself.

“We’re going to miss them all tremendously,” Rob Bagley said. “It will be an empty void forever.”

Her parents and brothers said they want Lake, who was 38, to be remembered for who she was: an outgoing, caring, strong, energetic person.

She was a well-behaved child, her mother said. “She was a very calm, easygoing child. Her feelings would get hurt easily. You had to be careful not to look at her sternly,” she said.

But she was also brave and athletic. At Harmony Elementary School one year, she was the only girl on the baseball team.

One year in high school, she was in so many activities — varsity basketball, field hockey and track, plus National Honor Society, math team and French club — that there were only two days when she didn’t need to drive her parents’ Buick so she could stay after school, her father said.

She hosted a French foreign exchange student, Chantal Astolfi, and the next year visited France. Astolfi was in her exchange sister’s wedding.

Ralph Bagley recalled his daughter’s perseverance running relay races on the high school track team, which set school records. “Her heart was for gold, not for silver,” he said.

She put herself through UMaine-Farmington with scholarships. She won so many of them, her father said, that she had money left over.

After graduating from the university in 1995, she returned to the school district she had attended. She started working in the resource room at Dexter Primary School and later became a kindergarten teacher in the district.

Lake’s children, 12-year-old Monica and 13-year-old Coty, “meant everything, and she meant everything to them,” her father said. The three will be buried together in one casket.

Monica, who played violin and saxophone, intended to learn to play the trombone next year. She was a “competitor to the utmost,” said her uncle Jeff, and played field hockey, basketball and softball. She was earning straight A’s and spoke about becoming a veterinarian.

Coty loved anything to do with the outdoors, his family said — hunting, snowmobiling, ice fishing. He joined Boy Scout Troop 61 this year and recently hiked six miles of the Appalachian Trail, said Jeff Bagley, who is an assistant troop leader.

Linda Bagley said she knows where her daughter and grandchildren have gone, and knows she will see them again.

“What I can’t handle, and it’s in the back of my mind when I go to bed, is what was done to them and if there was one that saw what happened to the other. I just can’t handle that. I don’t see how anyone could do what he did to his children,” she said.

Visiting hours for Amy, Coty and Monica Lake are 6 to 9 tonight at Dexter Regional High School. The funeral will be held there at 10 a.m. Saturday.

An account for a scholarship will be set up at Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union, 73 Main St., Dexter 04930. People may leave written tributes at www.crosbyneal.com.