Vigil
Scores of friends and neighbors turned out for a candlelight vigil in Lompoc in memory of Eldri Jauch. The body of the 74-year-old woman was found in the apartment of a neighbor, who has been charged with her murder.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
  • Scores of friends and neighbors turned out for a candlelight vigil in Lompoc in memory of Eldri Jauch. The body of the 74-year-old woman was found in the apartment of a neighbor, who has been charged with her murder.
  • Photos, flowers and candles help commemorate the life of Eldri Jauch.
  • The Rev. Mary Morena Richardson of The Guadalupe Art Project speaks during Saturday’s candelight vigil for Eldri Jauch.
  • Somis resident Rhonda Igo gets support from Paul Keener as she speaks about her late friend, Eldri Jauch.
  • Around 100 people attended a candelight vigil in Centennial Park in memory of Lompoc murder victim Eldri Jauch.
  • Dr. Farooq Husayn of the Islamic Center of Lompoc called for changes in the community to reduce violence. “I’m thinking of what Eldri would like us to do,” he said. “I think she’s expecting not just words, but actions.”
  • Pastor Jane Quandt of Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ shares memories of her friend, Eldri Jauch.

A 74-year-old Lompoc resident killed earlier this month was remembered as a free-spirited woman who loved the outdoors, attended a variety of churches and played the violin at the weekly farmers market.

Approximately100 friends and strangers attended the candlelight vigil in Lompoc’s Centennial Park on Saturday night to share memories of Eldri Jauch amid calls to reduce the violence in the community.

Jauch was reported missing June 6 and found dead in her neighbor’s apartment days later. Authorities charged that neighbor, 35-year-old Melissa Martin, with murder and alleged the victim was attacked with a baseball bat. Authorities have not disclosed a suspected motive.

“At age 74, she was biking, she (Jauch) was hiking, she was camping,” said Pastor Jane Quandt from Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ.

Many who knew Jauch initially suspected she simply had gone on “an Eldri adventure.”

“I wish it had been so,” Quandt said.

Jauch had an amazing spirit and gentle soul but lived a large life, she added.

“It occurred to me, that at 74, she was more alive than a lot of us will ever be,” Quandt said. “In fact, I think she’s the kind of person who is so alive that even death is not going to be able to contain her. Good luck, death.

“Hopefully, some measure of her spirit will live on in all of us.”

Speakers noted that Jauch spent a number of years in Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked for the World Council of Churches, setting the stage for her global travels.

“In 1967 — I love this one — she moved to San Francisco for the ‘summer of love,’” Quandt said, recalling Jauch’s free spirit.

Quandt recalled a conversation in which she shared her suspicion that Jauch was a hippie.

“She smiled and she said, ‘Of course, I was,’” Quandt said, adding that her friend carried that hippie spirit inside of her.

Jauch earned her marriage and family therapist license after earning her master’s degree at Santa Barbara’s Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she taught a class on death and dying.

She reportedly moved to Lompoc several years ago after previously living in the Santa Barbarea/Goleta area.

Noah Wagoner said he met Jauch at Lompoc Pride Alliance, where they bonded over a commitment to serving and supporting the community.

“The only word I can think of to describe her and fully capture what I know of her is exuberant,” he said. “She was filled with a lively energy and excitement, joyously unrestrained, effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic.

“Eldri never stopped smiling, connecting with people and giving the most valuable and unrenewable resource — her time.”

In addition to popping into Valley of the Flower church, Jauch showed up at the Islamic Center of Lompoc and participated in a Buddhist meditation group, Quandt said.

“While I might want to claim her as one of us, she belonged to us all,” Quandt said. “She really did. She belonged to everybody.”

Reflecting Jauch’s free spirit, the candlelight vigil included representatives from three faiths, including Dr. Farooq Husayn, president of the Islamic Center.

“I’m thinking of what Eldri would like us to do, what kind of vigil she would like. I think she’s expecting not just words, but actions,” he said, calling for changes in the community to reduce violence and replace it with care and compassion.

Members of the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center organized the gathering for the community with executive director Ann McCarty saying she hoped it would help with healing.

McCarty also read a statement from the murdered woman’s sister.

“To all of Eldri’s friends who helped search for her, to those who came forward with important information, and to Eldri’s landlady who have been very helpful in many ways, it was truly a cooperative endeavor,” McCarty read from the sister’s letter. “And Eldri would have been pleased to know that the community came together in this way.”

Unable to attend, Mayor Jenelle Osborne also sent a letter that McCarty read during the vigil, calling upon those in attendance to pause to hug each other.

“Remember Eldri more than the violent loss,” she wrote. “Hug more than you hate and we will work together toward reducing the violence in our community together.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.