Robbie Parker fought back tears and struggled to catch his breath as he described his daughter Emilie, 6, the beautiful, blonde, always-smiling girl who loved to try new things, except food.
Emilie was one of the students killed Friday at the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Her parents, Robbie and Alissa, met at Ogden's Ben Lomond High School.
Parker, one of the first parents to publicly talk about his loss, said he struggled to explain the death to his other two children, ages 3 and 4.
"They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they're going to miss very much," he said.
He's sustained by the fact that the world is better for having had Emilie in it.
"I'm so blessed to be her dad," he said.
The family will travel to Utah for Emilie's funeral and burial.
He expressed no animosity, saying he was not mad and offered sympathy for the family of the man who killed 27 people and himself.
To the man's family, he said, "I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you."
Parker said his daughter was quick to cheer up those in need.
"She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those she around her."
The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said. "I'm so blessed to be her dad."
It is the second recent tragic loss for the family. Alissa Parker's father, Douglas Cottle, died in September from injuries he suffered during the LOTOJA bicycle race from Logan to Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Cottle, 62, a retired dentist, suffered facial fractures in a fall during the race, near Strawberry Canyon, and was treated at the intensive care unit of McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
Cottle had competed in the 206-mile, one-day race nine times. He was one of about 1,500 cyclists this year.
Two men who are 15-year friends of the family have set up a charitable fund in the wake of Emilie's death.
Alan Prothero and Brad Schultz, both of Ogden, created a Facebook site, Emilie Parker Fund, and a charitable fund that was meant for just the family and friends of the Parker family. But response has gone viral with more than 150,000 "likes" and 1,680 shares of a post about the charitable fund as of Saturday night.
Prothero said the family will travel to Utah for Emilie's funeral and burial and that the family's friends want to help financially.
"Every bit of the funds are going to the Parker and Cottle family," Prothero said in a telephone interview. "We wanted to make sure there was an avenue to take care of their family."
Prothero said donations had been made to the fund from many parts of the world.
"We've seen many who offer condolences, but many have opened up their wallets as well," he said.
The Emilie Parker Memorial Account has been established at America First Credit Union.
A PayPal account in the name of Prothero's wife, Brooke, also is available for donations.
Prothero said her account was diverted to the fundraising effort in the interest of time and to allow those from outside the country and the area to donate.
To donate by PayPal, send funds to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.