Xiaojie Tan, one of eight people killed in last week’s Atlanta-area spa shootings, was remembered at her funeral Friday for forging her own way in business, raising her daughter well and treating her customers as friends.
And if Americans could learn from her example, “the violence and bloodshed might stop,” her ex-husband said at the service.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Friday for Tan, the 49-year-old owner of one of three spas where a gunman went on a rampage March 16.
Tan and her daughter moved from China to the US with her then-husband Michael Webb more than 15 years ago. On Friday, Webb told mourners that Tan’s family abroad would like her now-adult daughter, an American citizen, to live in China “because they think it’s just not safe here anymore.”
“And who could blame them?” Webb said at the service at Catholic Church of St. Ann in Marietta, northwest of Atlanta. “This is the kind of example our country is setting for the rest of the world.”
When the Georgia shootings were followed days later by a massacre at a Colorado grocery store, Webb said, he heard a reporter say something about US mass shootings having largely paused during the coronavirus pandemic, until now.
“Do we really have to quarantine ourselves to avoid being gunned down in the grocery store, our schools, our businesses, our places of worship?” Webb said. “We as a country should be ashamed.
“If only our country could learn from Xiaojie’s example, the violence and bloodshed and pain might stop.”
She saved ‘for the retirement that would never come’
Tan, owner of Youngs Asian Massage in Georgia’s Cherokee County, was killed two days before her 50th birthday.
Webb, one of two people who eulogized her, met Tan in China while he was there on business in 2003, and they married the next year.
When they moved to Florida, she was determined to own her own business.
She enrolled in school to get a license to be a nail technician while they lived in Florida, he has said. They later moved to Georgia in 2008, where she bought a nail salon in Marietta and ran it for 10 years.
Tan eventually sold that business, and bought and ran two spas, including Youngs Asian Massage, the Cherokee County business where she would lose her life.
With her earnings, she bought a home for her mother in China, put her daughter through college and saved for a future where she’d hoped to travel to places like Alaska and Europe.
“She worked six days (a week), sometimes seven, 12 hours a day – usually eating rice and vegetables in the back of her shop for lunch and dinner, to save money for the retirement that would never come,” Webb said at Friday’s service.
Tan looked after her employees, helping some start their own businesses, the Rev. Ray Cadran said during the Mass, citing her family.
Webb added that “her customers became her friends, and she would always bring them gifts – her homemade dumplings – which she would share with the neighboring businesses.”
Jin Jin, of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs group, eulogized Tan on behalf of the Asian American community and her family and friends in China.
“She was like many of us: first-generation immigrant, intelligent, hardworking, and always kind to others. Loved to serve the community,” Jin Jin said.
“Xiaojie is one of us. She is a good daughter, mother, sister, friend, and a neighbor,” she said. “She will forever live in our heart.”
Those attending Friday’s service included several state lawmakers, as well as staff from the offices of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, US Sens. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, and US Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.
Tan’s daughter, Jamie Webb, told CNN last week that she been looking forward to celebrating her mom’s 50th birthday – a celebration stolen by her death.
“I just want to hold her tight,” Jamie Webb said last week. ‘Give her a hug … hold her hand, hug her for a long time.”
A GoFundMe page set up to support Jamie Webb has raised more than $90,000.
CNN’s Dakin Andone, Jamiel Lynch, Christina Maxouris and Jason Morris contributed to this report.