Christopher Patterson loved all kinds of music.
So it was fitting that Saturday's farewell service for the 20-year-old Indiana National Guard specialist was infused with rich choral and solo voices raised in praise and remembrance.
An estimated 500 mourners -- including governors from Indiana and Illinois -- gathered at Batavia's Immanuel Lutheran Church for a two-hour service honoring the 2009 West Aurora High School graduate killed along with three others on Jan. 6 in Afghanistan.
"(His parents) said they wanted this to be a celebration of Christopher's life," said the Rev. Ronald Weidler, senior pastor at Immanuel, the Patterson family's home church.
A Valparaiso University student, Patterson was studying music education and sang with campus groups. He enlisted in the Indiana National Guard and served as a combat engineer with the 713rd Engineering Company based out of the Valparaiso Armory.
Patterson was killed along with three other Indiana Guard members when they were ambushed and fatally injured by a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province.
"Chris was about everyone else," said his father, Bob. "He touched so many lives, hundreds, thousands of lives. He showed his faith, he lived his faith, he was his faith. (And) he was never discouraged in the roughest of weather or whatever he was going through in Afghanistan. He was there to cheer people up. That was Christopher."
Saturday's Lutheran service was held in a spacious two-story gymnasium to accommodate a large crowd, which included Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
The funeral was Daniels' fourth of the week.
"It's been a long and sad week," he said. "The good part of that is that I came to know more and more about Christopher Patterson as the week went on. At every stop along the way there were Patterson stories, fond memories (and) laughs. I can tell you, he will be long-remembered."
Patterson's wood-trimmed casket was placed in front of a simple altar and covered with a white fabric funeral pall, later replaced by an American flag.
Music alternated between the somber and upbeat. Patterson was involved with several musical groups over the years and each performed, including a West Aurora High School chorus, plus Valparaiso University a cappella and choral groups.
"Chris loved performing and today he's smiling," said Bob Patterson.
Near the close of the service Patterson was posthumously awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals.
He is survived by his parents, including mother, Mary, plus three brothers: Carl, Sean and Thomas. A private interment was planned.
Memorial funds have been established in Patterson's name in care of Valparaiso's Office of Advancement and West Aurora High School's Music Department.