Written by Connie Larkman
Victoria "Vicki" Leigh Soto was a public school teacher who loved her calling and her students, a member of the Lordship Community Church UCC in Stratford Conn., and a hero who gave her life to save several children from a gunman's bullets on Friday, Dec. 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was 27.
The cherished daughter of Carlos and Donna (Fagan) Soto, and beloved sister of Jillian, Carlee and Carlos Matthew Soto, she was born in Bridgeport and a lifelong Stratford resident. Vicki was a 2003 graduate of Stratford High School, and earned degrees in both Education and History with high honors from Eastern Connecticut State University. She was currently attending Southern Connecticut State University to complete her Master's Degree.
Vicki was in her fifth year of teaching at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Teaching was her passion, following in the footsteps of her beloved Aunt Debbie, and her dream since she was three years old. Molding young minds was her priority, but being the "fun" teacher was what she was all about. The children she taught at Sandy Hook Elementary were a huge part of her life.
"She is from a large extended family of great faith," said the Rev. Margaret Williams, who will preside at her funeral service on Wednesday Dec. 19 at the Lordship church. "I think that her family and church community is shocked with sadness, but also incredibly proud of the heroism she showed.
Vicki Soto has been widely credited with saving her students from the gunman, getting them out of sight and confronting him alone.
"None of us really knows how we would react at such a time of incredible crisis," reflected Williams, who led the children's choir in which Vicki sang as a young girl, "and I think we're all very proud of what she did."
Vicki was passionate about her family, which was the most important part of her life, especially her siblings, sisters, Jillian whom she loved unconditionally, and Carlee in whom she instilled the importance of higher education, and her brother Carlos Matthew who looked up to his big sister with pride.
She was not only a role model to her sisters and brother, but to everyone she met. She was an amazing young woman, who died a hero.
Some of her favorite things include: Flamingo's, of which you can never have too many -- "Whenever we saw one, we thought of her," said her family -- the New York Yankees #11, and, most importantly, Christmas, as she was the only one allowed to pick out the tree and put up the lights.
Her friends were also such a big part of her life, especially her best friend and confidant Rachel Schiavone, whom she loved dearly. Vicki also leaves behind her loving dog Roxie, who waited for her to come home everyday, and is still waiting, lost without her.
Her extended family was also a huge part of her life. In addition to her beloved parents and siblings, Vicki is survived by her grandparents, "Pop Pop" Donald Fagan of Bridgeport, and Jose and Marta Soto of Cleveland, Tennessee; her Aunt and Godmother Debbie Cronk, and her husband, Uncle Robbie Cronk; and their children Heather Rose, Brianne Elizabeth and Wesley Fagan Cronk; her Uncle and Godfather Dean Fagan and his wife Denise and their children; Alex Gerard and her favorite buddy Zachary Jan Fagan. SOFACRO forever!
She is also survived by her Uncle Don Fagan and his wife Linda and their children, Don and wife Jennifer, Christopher and Fiancé Sarah, their children Natalie, Christopher and Doug Fagan. She was predeceased by her maternal grandmother Janice Biebel Fagan.
"Vicki," said her family, "was truly an amazing daughter, sister, cousin, teacher and friend and died protecting her 'kids.' We couldn't be prouder of our hero."