The longtime minister of 76-year-old Dorwan Stoddard, one of the six victims of Saturday's Arizona shooting, says he had a conversation with Stoddard's wife in the hospital that leads him to believe Stoddard died trying to protect her from the spraying bullets.
"According to Mavy when I talked to her in the hospital, when the gunshots went off Dorwan pulled her down and ended up on top of her," Michael Nowak, minister of the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ in Tucson, Ariz., told HuffPost. "She was shot in the legs, and he was shot in the head. She believes in her heart that he protected her from damage."
Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard were not particularly involved in politics, Nowak said, but they stopped by Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' meet-and-greet to offer her some encouragement.
"Mavy said she just wanted to go down to meet Giffords and tell her what a good job she was doing," Nowak said.
The pastor, who baptized the Stoddards and has been close friends with them for 15 years, told HuffPost he isn't surprised Dorwan Stoddard died a hero, considering the exemplary life he led.
"I think Dorwan acted as any husband would, but this wasn't at all out of character for him -- he was giving and caring and always thought of everyone but himself," Nowak said.
Nowak said Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker, was very involved with the church, volunteering seven days a week as the administrator of the church's benevolence and maintenance ministries. During the summers, he said, the Stoddards enjoyed camping and traveling the globe to establish friendships and become involved with different churches.
"They were people people," he said. "They enjoyed meeting new people wherever they went."
Mavy Stoddard is currently recovering from a gunshot wound to her legs at a Tucson hospital, but Nowak says she will have plenty of support from her community and church when she is released.
"People are shocked and saddened that Dorwan had been shot and that they won't see him anymore, and the idea that Mavy is gonna be left alone," he said. "We all plan to rally around her and be there for her when she gets out."