NEENAH, Wis. (WLUK) - As they prepare to say goodbye to the victims of Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, family members here in the Fox Valley say they're proud of their uncle, the temple president, who tried to stop the shooter by stabbing the man with a butter knife.
"He lived like a Sikh and he died like a Sikh," said Gurjeet Kaleka, saying love and understanding were his uncle's hallmarks.
Gurjeet and Gurmit Kaleka say their uncle, temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, spent most of his time at the house of worship he helped build in Oak Creek, Wis.
"The temple was his heart and soul. He basically lived in the temple," said Gurjeet.
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Gurmit says he was in the Milwaukee area Sunday when he got the call shortly after shots were fired by 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.
"The cops had blocked off the building and the surrounding roads so everybody was near the bowling alley. We waited until 9 or 10 p.m. It was very stressful and tragic," said Gurmit.
Gurmit, who lives in Neenah, Wis., searched at several hospitals in Milwaukee where the wounded were taken, but couldn't find his uncle. Gurmit then called his brother Gurjeet in West Virginia once he found out their uncle was among the dead.
"It was very hard to digest what happened," said Gurjeet, at his brother's home on Tuesday.
Now in the wake of this tragedy, they're left with memories. Some are simple.
"He was the one who taught me to drive," said Gurmit.
Others were profound lessons on how to live life.
"He wasn't only uncle to me; he was uncle to hundreds and thousands of people. People he didn't know, he'd be keeping them in his home, giving them food, giving them lodging, just like they were his own sons," said Gurjeet.
The Kalekas say vigils and other outpourings of support have helped them cope with the loss.
"When you share grief, it lessens," said Gurjeet.
These brothers say though grief is a long process, they forgive the shooter.
"My religion teaches to forgive and to emerge stronger from this tragedy, and educate everybody on who we are and what we stand for," said Gurmit.
Out of this brutal act of hate, these brothers hope their uncle's Sikh philosophy of love and acceptance can outshine the death and destruction.
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