Nearly one thousand people gathered at the Worship Center in Leola, Lancaster County to bid farewell to a friend.
A devout Christian with a bubbly personality, 32-year-old Nicole Mathewson was loved by so many people.
"Every person she met she took an interest in and cared for them and she got to know them, no matter who they were and then she would remember that information to follow up with them later on," said longtime friend, Jamie Groff.
The Conestoga Valley School teacher was found dead in her Lancaster home on December 15. Two men were arrested and charged with her death after they broke into her home, robbed and then beat her. Mathewson later died as a result of her injuries. Her death shocked many in the community, especially those that knew her well.
"She really did give all of herself and didn't always get that in return but she did it anyway. That sacrifice was worth it to her," said collegue and friend, Jill Stoltzfoos.
Stoltzfoos worked with Mathewson at Brownstown Elementary. The sixth grade teacher taught math and was popular among students.
"They could talk to her about school but they could talk to her about anything," she added.
"She touched a lot of lives. She was very passionate about math; very hands on; used technology, engaged the students; made math fun. She made her classroom fun and for all those reasons, she'll be a difficult person to replace in our classroom at Brownstown," said Superintendent Gerald Huesken with the Conestoga Valley School District.
Most of all, it was her friendship that people appreciated most. Jamie Groff remembers Mathewson's kindness when he first learned of his mother diagnosed with cancer.
"She was the first friend to jump on board and just say hey I'm here for you and she just started planning meals for me and my family," he said.
A life short-lived yet remembered for so much.
The Brownstown faculty and staff created a fund in Mathewson's name to provide support for her family. Remaining donations will pay for a memorial to be placed on school grounds in Nicole's memory or to fund a scholarship in her name. If you'd like to contribute, click on the following link: http://www.conestogavalley.org/