Funeral held for Irina McCarthy, who was slain with husband at Highland Park parade, leaving behind young son

“Irina flourished and blossomed as a mother,” a close friend said Tuesday at her funeral service in Wilmette.

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Mourners hug Tuesday morning as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, who was one of seven people killed in a mass shooting that left more than three dozen others injured during Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade.

Mourners hug Tuesday morning as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, who was one of seven people killed in a mass shooting during Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Irina McCarthy was a great mom to her son, Aiden, for too short a time.

“Irina flourished and blossomed as a mother to Aiden,” said Brittany Chism, her best friend since grade school.

“Her literal words to me were, ‘Aiden is hilarious. Kevin and I are both obsessed.’ ”

A funeral service for McCarthy was held Tuesday at Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette.

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McCarthy, 35, and her husband, Kevin, 37, were fatally shot at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade. Kevin McCarthy shielded their 2 ½-year-old son from bullets. Seven people were killed and at least three dozen others were wounded in the mass shooting.

“It was magical to see their love and dedication to Aiden. He’s such a special boy and the apple of their eye,” Chism said. “It’s no surprise that Aiden’s funny personality is already shining through. Irina was always laughing, cracking jokes and had a sunny disposition that was contagious.” 

Irina, 35, and Kevin McCarthy, 37, of Highland Park

Irina, 35, and Kevin McCarthy, 37, of Highland Park

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The parents cared for Aiden “like no family I have ever witnessed,” said Victor Lichtenberg, a family friend who has known Irina since she moved to Chicago from Russia with her parents at age 5. 

“Aiden is left behind as an orphan, but he will be cared for by all of us. He will have a family, a home and he’ll thrive and grow with us,” he said. “Every moment, every time I look at that child, I see Irina, the beautiful blond curly hair, the impossibly beautiful blue eyes and that incredible smile. He lights up a room. He makes everybody happy.” 

Natasha Lichtenberg, Victor’s wife, recalled how Irina’s silly side shone through in her younger years while babysitting the Lichtenbergs’ children.

To the great delight of her charges, McCarthy would look up “various unmentionable words” in the dictionary and “calmly read the definitions as they fell over giggling.”

McCarthy grew up in Highland Park and attended DePaul University.

She was a bright, funny person, with a calm demeanor and wisdom beyond her years who had the rare quality of not just passing through the lives of people she met but touching them, friends said Tuesday. 

She was also an athlete who spent years mastering taekwondo and was so talented her coach wanted to qualify her for the Olympics.

The hearse carrying the casket for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy leaves Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette after her funeral on Tuesday.

The hearse carrying the casket for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy leaves Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette after her funeral on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Binita Choksi, a colleague from AbbVie, the biopharmaceutical company where McCarthy worked, recalled the enjoyment of seeing Aiden’s smile when he would make a cameo on virtual work calls.

“One day, her son, Aiden, will become well aware of what a wonderful mom he was blessed with and will feel the love from the solid tracks she has laid,” said another colleague, Dan Gandor. 

“This is a nightmare and we cannot wake up,” Rabbi Dovid Flinkenstein said.

“How can we fathom innocent and adorable little Aiden growing up as an orphan?” he said. “The pain isn’t just here, the pain is also in heaven. Irina and Kevin are also in pain. ... ‘Why aren’t we there with Aiden when he cries “Mommy” and “Daddy”? Why can’t we be there for Aiden as he grows up? Who will now be Aiden’s protective shield?’ The pain is deep.”

Even though McCarthy’s light was extinguished, “we respond with a double measure of light ... we will overcome the darkness,” Flinkenstein said. 

“Irina, you’ve already inspired more than 58,000 people to do an act of kindness on Aiden’s behalf,” Flinkenstein said, referring to the GoFundMe page set up for the boy that has raised more than $3 million.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and Gov. J.B. Pritzker walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the Tuesday morning funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, who was one of seven people killed in a mass shooting that left more than three dozen others injured during Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and Gov. J.B. Pritzker walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the Tuesday morning funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, who was one of seven people killed in a mass shooting that left more than three dozen others injured during Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mourners hug as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy on Tuesday.

Mourners hug as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mourners walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy on Tuesday.

Mourners walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mourners hug as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the Tuesday morning funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy.

Mourners hug as they walk into Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home in Wilmette for the Tuesday morning funeral for 35-year-old Irina McCarthy.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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