BLACKSBURG, VA. — Kevin P. Granata was the kind of professor whose door was always open to his students.
When he heard gunfire Monday, he didn't run away. He found some frightened students and brought them back to the safety of his office. He ventured out again.
The students lived. Granata was shot in the head and died.
On Friday, in a crowded Presbyterian church not far from the Virginia Tech campus, friends and family, students and colleagues memorialized a man whose life was lost to senseless violence because he put others before himself.
"When I heard he had died trying to save the lives of students, I was not surprised," said William S. Marras, Granata's former doctoral advisor at Ohio State University. "That's Kevin."
It was part of a long day of pain and healing: More victims were buried, Virginia's governor declared a statewide day of mourning, the school's baseball team got back to the business of playing and gunman Seung-hui Cho's family issued a statement of grief.
At noon, the campus of Virginia Tech observed a moment of silence as bells tolled 32 times. Near Norris Hall, where most of the shooting rampage took place, students wept as they released 32 balloons bearing the names of the victims. Within minutes of the last toll and after a half-hearted Hokies chant, the students scattered in all directions.
Hundreds attended Granata's memorial service, so many that the crowd spilled out of the chapel. The audience was a cross-section of this college town: students in Virginia Tech sweatshirts, mothers holding crying babies, teens in Boy Scout uniforms, professors in dark gray suits. Flower arrangements in the Hokies' colors -- maroon and orange -- adorned the inside of the church.
"The world is a wonderful place. It is a wonderful place because of people like Kevin Granata," said Ishwar K. Puri, the head of Virginia Tech's department of engineering science and mechanics, who urged mourners to remember all the good things Granata had done, not the way he died.
Granata, 45, was a professor of biomechanics whose scientific research, colleagues and friends said, had broadened understanding of how the human body moves.
He was a man, they said, devoted to his three young children -- Alex, Eric and Ellen -- and his wife, Linda. He was a compassionate friend and mentor who reminded his academic counterparts that one could become a top specialist and still have a full life, as well as a sense of humor.
Among those who won't soon forget Granata is Gregory Slota, a graduate student and lab assistant who was in Norris Hall during Monday's shooting spree.
As usual, Slota said, the tireless Granata arrived at work early that morning. He stopped to chat with other researchers in the musculoskeletal biomechanics laboratory, then went up to his third-floor office to meet with a student.
When the gunfire began, Granata left his office to see what was happening. He entered a classroom across the hall and told the students to go into his office and lock the door. He headed downstairs, closer to the staccato sounds.
"He's not the kind of person to just sit around and wait," Slota said. "He'd want to get more information and see what he can do to help.... He was probably concerned not just for the students, but the second floor is where secretaries worked. He probably wanted to make sure they were safe."
Slota said that as the shooting unfolded, he remained on the first floor, locked in an inner room with two other lab workers and four students. One of the students had been shot, and someone removed his shirt to make a tourniquet to slow the bleeding.
Michael Diersing, the lab manager and Granata's brother-in-law, survived the shooting in the same room as Slota. Diersing's wife and Granata's widow are twin sisters.
At the memorial Friday, Diersing recalled with a smile how Granata recently had decided to coach a local youth lacrosse team. He took to the task with his usual gusto, reading everything he could about the sport. The team proved to be no good under his tutelage. But he told his brother-in-law that he hoped to impart the only lesson that mattered:
When you get knocked down in life, get back up.
"And that's a lesson that we should all remember today," Diersing said, choking back tears as the students who were in the room with him Monday stood behind him at the pulpit.
Back on the field
As darkness fell along the Blue Ridge Mountains on Friday, the clang of metal bats hitting baseballs rang through the air at English Field, as Virginia Tech hosted the University of Miami. It was the school's first sporting event since the shooting.
Hokie fans filled the stands and lay down on blankets on a hill overlooking the third-base line.
The players observed a 32-second-long moment of silence. They held their hands to their chests for the Pledge of Allegiance. Then they ran out to the field to play ball to loud applause.
"This is a town -- a state -- that's going to rally together," said Tina Neagle, who drove two hours from her home in Mechanicsville, Va., to see the game along with her husband, Andy, and her 11-year-old daughter, Davi. "We're Hokies."
Times staff writer Lianne Hart in Houston contributed to this report.