Remembered as a loving mother, loyal friend and caring teacher, Tara Roe’s passing left a void for many in the community.
“Tara was a one-of-a-kind person to me,” said her husband Zach. “Never in my life have I met such a caring, down-to-earth person. Although sometimes it wasn’t on her surface, she was the most kind-hearted person you will ever meet. She cared more about others than she did herself, she did anything for you.”
Tara was one of 59 people killed in a mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across the street from the Route 91 Harvest Festival. She was attending the music festival with Zach. Tara was reported missing Oct. 2 and confirmed as a victim on Oct. 3.
Though she was born and raised in Brandon, Man., Tara moved to Calgary in fall 2005 after completing the para-educator program at Red River College in Winnipeg that same year.
She took a position with Janus Academy, working one-on-one with autistic children, where Zach said she truly found her calling.
The couple met shortly after her move, moving in together in Okotoks after dating for just two months in 2007. They were married on Aug. 22, 2009 at Tara’s favourite place: Clear Lake, in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park, where her family owns a cabin. It was there the Roes spent many weeks each summer, said Zach.
Their two children – Louis, seven, and Lennon, five – soon became Tara’s world.
“What inspired her, I think, was her kids,” said Zach. “She lived for those kids, and would have done everything for them.”
Tara kept the family busy, from hiking or camping to skiing, playing mini-sticks in the basement, travelling and visiting friends, he said.
“She was very busy, which was good,” said Zach. “She wanted to keep those kids busy and they lost her far too early in their young lives.”
As an avid hockey fan, he said Tara was determined to see her boys grow up playing the game. Tara managed Louis’ Timbits hockey team in 2016-2017 with friend Tanus Mounkes.
Her main goals were to make it as accessible and as fun as possible for every family, she said.
Mounkes met Tara during their boys’ first year of hockey, which began in the fall of 2015. What began as parents sitting in the stands together developed into a friendship, she said.
“She came into my life pretty much by force,” said Mounkes. “I’m really introverted and she is totally the opposite. She just kind of got to know me and I got to know her, just starting off at hockey.”
From there, the Mounkes were invited to join the Roes’ slo-pitch team – Old Balls – where their friendship continued to blossom, she said.
Mounkes described Tara as feisty, with a lot of attitude, and someone who was not afraid to tell you what she thought – even when you didn’t ask.
She said over time she felt closer to Tara than some of her own sisters.
“She was one of those people I didn’t expect to become friends with but I did, and I’m going to miss her quite a lot,” she said. “She was just that person in your life you could always count on, you could always ask for help, you could always rely on her for anything.
“She would give you the clothes off her back, she would drop everything to help you. She was just that type of person.”
After taking a four-year hiatus from her job to be a stay-at-home mom, Tara began working for Foothills School Division. It was through her position at Percy Pegler that she met Tiffany Boyd. She was the one-on-one aide for Boyd’s son Jaxen in the preschool program, and was working with him again at Big Rock School this year.
“I take him to one-on-one and still every day he asks for her,” said Boyd. “He’s got speech delay, autism and ADHD but he still knows she’s not there. She was a big puzzle piece in our family.”
Boyd said Tara was very patient and kind, and very logical in asking and answering questions. She was able to make a connection with Jaxen, which is not an easy thing to do, said Boyd.
“I think you get to see who somebody really is when they’re put in a situation where they’re working with a little guy who has struggles,” said Boyd. “She was incredible with a special little guy and absolutely great to work with.”
Zach said Tara loved her work in the schools and was inspired by every little stride her students took. She also enjoyed volunteering in her own sons’ classrooms when she wasn’t working, he said. After-school activities like swimming and skating lessons or soccer also filled her time, as well as getting friends together to ensure everyone stayed in touch, he said.
When asked to describe his wife, Zach said it was her uniqueness that drew him to her 10 years ago. She was straight forward and to the point, but also very loving and caring with a big heart, he said.
“You come across a lot of people in your life and I never thought I’d come across one like her,” said Zach. “She was just my match.”