On the day they buried Leah Walsh,family and friends asked that the slain Bethpage teacher be rememberednot for the way she died, but for the lives she touched.
Outside a Rockville Centre funeral home, where some 200 mournerssobbed, hugged and shared condolences yesterday morning, Walsh's formerMolloy College classmate Lauren Kiefer said Walsh was an outgoing soul, always willing to help fellow student teachers.
Melba Bralower, who watched Walsh grow up from across the street onRose Lane in Rockville Centre, remembered Walsh as a "terrific littlegirl" who turned her love of children into a career in special needseducation.
Before burying Walsh, 29, at Beth Moses Cemetery in Pinelawn, mournerspleaded that the public remember her as more than the woman whose bodywas found in a wooded area in North Hills on Wednesday. Police havecharged her husband, William Walsh, also 29, with her murder.
Later in the day, a man who identified himself as a relative at Walsh'sparents' Rose Lane home, said: "We thank everybody for their prayers.It's the only thing that's gotten us through this."
The funeral and burial were the backdrop for tearful scenes. Black-cladrelatives and friends lined up near the coffin to toss flowers andhandfuls of dirt into Walsh's burial plot, where the headstone had notyet been inscribed.
Police prevented news reporters from entering the funeral service,which was held at Gutterman's Funeral Home on North Long Beach Road.
"You can't imagine the crowd that was in there. Every seat was packed," Bralower said.
Walsh taught special needs students at The School for Language andCommunication Development in Glen Cove. Bralower said she wouldremember the slain teacher by her maiden name - Hirschel.
"That's how I knew her growing up," said Bralower, 83. "That's how I'll remember her."
William Walsh Jr. has been held at Nassau University Medical Center for medical observation, his relatives and lawyer have said. A hospital spokesman declined to comment on his status.
Walsh is scheduled to appear in court today. His lawyer, Karl Seman ofGarden City, maintained his client's innocence yesterday in aninterview with Newsday.
"I find it most disturbing that his character is being attacked with absolutely no concrete evidence," Seman said.