OGDEN -- Close childhood friends of Robbie Parker aren't surprised by his courage and refusal to harbor anger against the gunman who killed his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, in a Connecticut school shooting Friday.
Drake Rasmussen, of Logan, who met Parker when the pair attended Horace Mann Elementary School in Ogden, said Sunday night that "(Robbie Parker) has always been a great person and willing to forgive others."
Alan Prothero, of Ogden, and Brad Schultz, of North Salt Lake, also friends of Parker, said his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has given him the strength to talk publicly about the death of Emilie in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
"Robbie has always been respectful of other people and an honorable person," Schultz said. "He has the ability to reach out to others in a way they can understand."
Prothero and Schultz met Parker when they all attended Highland Middle School in Ogden. All three went to Ben Lomond High School and Weber State University together, and served Spanish-speaking LDS missions around the same time.
Parker, who served in the Brazil Ribeirao Preto Mission from 2000 to 2002, was teaching Portuguese to Emilie at the time of her death.
"She was a well-spoken little girl," Schultz said.
Emilie is also survived by her mother, Alissa, and two sisters, ages 3 and 4.
Parker and his family had moved about eight months ago from New Mexico to Connecticut, where he accepted a job as a physician's assistant, Prothero said.
Prothero said he has maintained contact with Parker and has been in communication with him since the shooting to offer his support.
Prothero and Schultz set up the Emilie Parker Fund Facebook page Friday. As of Sunday night, the page had received more than 286,000 "likes" and more than 600,000 page views, Schultz said.
The purpose of the page initially was to share information about Emilie, but eventually was expanded to raise funds to help offset costs associated with her funeral.
Prothero declined to say how much money has been raised but said the page has been successful. Emilie will be buried in Ogden, but details about her funeral have not been finalized.
President Barack Obama met with Robbie and Alissa Parker and with others on Sunday who lost children and family members in the shooting in which 20 children and six adults died and the shooter, Adam Lanza, killed himself. The president also gave an emotional address to the nation on Friday about the incident, and spoke at a vigil in Newtown on Sunday.
Prothero said he has been impressed by the way Obama has responded to the tragedy. "He has helped unify the nation."