They were typical of the senior citizens who flock to Arizona to flee bad weather and stressful lives for a more leisurely lifestyle. Last year, AARP Magazine ranked Tucson No. 1 on its list of top retirement cities. Twenty percent of the population of Pima County, which includes Tucson, is 60 or older, according to a report from the county's Council on Aging.
But 76-year-old Dorothy Morris's life in the oasis ended tragically Saturday when she was gunned down outside a Tucson grocery store, in the mass shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including a congresswoman. Two other seniors, Dorwan Stoddard, 76, and Phyllis Schneck, 79, also died.
Stoddard died while trying to protect his wife, Mavy, who was shot three times but is expected to recover. George Morris was shot twice while trying to shield Dorothy, Royle said, and remains in the hospital.
"The big shock was that we're a retirement community where people are aging and we deal with death yearround. But we do it on our own time," Lynne Newbauer, 68, who moved to Sun City from Minnesota, said after a round of tennis. Of the Morrises, she added: "It's like someone cheated them."
On Tuesday, Sun City was bustling with seniors enjoying some of the 130 club activities, which range from tennis to golf to dance to woodworking. The community's 2,488 homes are arranged on precisely manicured cul-de-sacs in the valley of a mountain range. The Morris home appeared empty; a cactus and a small sign advertising a security system were planted in the front yard.
The Morrises, though Republican, had attended Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's "Congress on Your Corner" event Saturday because they wanted to ask her about something that was on their minds, friends said. When a gunman, identified by police as Jared Lee Loughner, opened fire on the gathering, Giffords was severely wounded.
Royle said he spoke to George Morris in the hospital. "He's hurting - emotionally and physically," Royle said. "He has some pretty good wounds. He's out of intensive care, but he will need some therapy. The bullet wound went through him. He has a broken rib and punctured lung. And he has a bullet in his right leg. He told me when it all happened, he went to fall on his wife to protect her, but she was already gone."
The story was reversed for the Stoddards. At an emotional news conference, a daughter, Penny Wilson, said [Dorwan] "heard the shots and covered my mom with his own body, and protected her and saved her." Wilson's sister, Angela Robinson, added: "It was a beautiful way to say goodbye."