DEXTER – Michelle Lamoreau carried a teddy bear with her Saturday as she walked to the podium set before the nearly 1,000 people in Dexter Regional High School’s gymnasium who had gathered to mourn the deaths of Amy Bagley Lake and her two children.

Lamoreau, a kindergarten teacher at Ridge View Community School, taught Lake’s son, Coty, about eight years ago. At the end of his kindergarten year, he gave her the teddy bear because he didn’t want Lamoreau to forget him, she said.

She’s kept it all these years, and she does not intend to forget him, his sister, Monica, or his mother, who was also a kindergarten teacher at the same school in Dexter.

The hundreds of people who filled the high school gym Saturday testified to the fact that they will not forget, either. Many wore purple, a symbol of domestic violence awareness. Family, friends and co-workers sat quietly, wiping away tears.

Lake, 38, of Dexter and her children, Coty, 13, and Monica, 12, were shot Monday by Lake’s estranged husband, Steven Lake, 37, who then killed himself, according to police.

Amy Lake graduated as valedictorian in the same gym in which her funeral was held. About 50 bouquets adorned the area around the casket, which held Lake and her children. Positioned front and center were framed photographs of each of them.

“Amy, Coty and Monica, we love you and miss you dearly. Amy, thank you for living a life of love. Thank you for the memories you have given us and the good times we shared,” Lamoreau said.

She read a Bible verse from 1 Corinthians usually recited at weddings: “Love is patient; love is kind.”

“Amy always demonstrated patience with her kids. Her tone was loving and compassionate,” Lamoreau said. “Love always protects. She always tried to protect her kids, her family and her friends.”

Lake fought for teachers, Lamoreau said, adding that she has her current job because Lake advocated for her. “Love always trusts and always hopes. Amy and the kids had their faith in God,” Lamoreau said. “Coty always told her God was going to take care of them.”

Kelly Gay, also a kindergarten teacher at Ridge View, described Lake as her best friend. They were both hired by School Administrative District 46 as special education teachers, and their sons were born one day apart.

They trusted and confided in one another, Gay said. That fact was clear last week, she said, when she often wanted to tell Lake something and then remembered she was not there.

“I realized so many times this week: I told Amy everything,” she said Saturday.

Lake “never hesitated to tell me that she loved me,” Gay said, describing her as a strong woman and “amazing” mother, teacher and friend.

“I wish I could have done more for her,” she said. “She would have done anything for anybody in this room, no questions asked.”

The Rev. Will Walters, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Dexter, described Lake as a “stable woman in an unstable world” and urged those present to come together as a community.

“One victory that I see already in this tragedy is the help and outpouring of love from the community,” said Walters, who officiated at the funeral. “May I suggest that we continue this. May I suggest we trade our sorrows for service.”

Lake was “the kindest, gentlest person I’ve ever known,” said Roxann Bagley, Lake’s sister-in-law.

She described Coty as a similarly kind-hearted person. “Coty had the same love for his family that his mother did,” she said. “His mother was his life.” Before he went to bed each night, he told his mother he loved her, Bagley said.

Monica loved to have her hair braided and wear dresses but was an athlete and competitor, she said. She described her as outgoing and talkative.

Bagley said when she meets them in heaven, Monica will most likely be in a Dexter sports uniform. Coty will be wearing his favorite hat, grinning, about to tell her a joke. Amy Lake, she said, will be waiting with a smile and an open heart.