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Funeral for Warda B. Syed and son Uzair Ahmed, who were found dead in the pond by Grace Lord Park in Boonton Tuesday.

Morristown Daily Record

BOONTON — Standing before hundreds of mourners outside the Jam-e-Majid Islamic Center, Imam Basel Hamdeh’s voice broke as he spoke about a loving mother he said gave her life trying to save her son.

“Sister Warda, bless her beautiful soul, was a mom who lived her life serving her family,” he said. “She sacrificed every single moment until she died for her family.”

The bodies of Warda Syed, 35,  and her son, Uzair Ahmed, 11, were discovered early Tuesday evening in the water at the top of a dam near Grace Lord Park that forms the pond and empties over a waterfall leading into the Rockaway River.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is still investigating the incident.

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Friday, officers from Boonton police, neighboring towns and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office blocked off Madison Street outside the center to accommodate a large crowd. The funeral was moved outside to allow for social distancing as most of the block filled with men who knelt on prayer rugs for Friday prayers at noon before the 1 p.m. service.

“An eyewitness said when they saw her blessed body floating in the water, they thought she was alone until they rescued the body and found Uzair,” Hamdeh said. “Sister Warda was such a sweet woman, wonderful, her smile was so contagious. She cared so much about her family.”

Her husband, Zeshan Ahmed, sat in front as Hamdeh recalled Sayed’s love for her child. “I was Uzair’s teacher and she would always follow him with his lessons. She told him the Book of God will protect you throughout your life.”

Uzair, he said, came to lessons dressed “As if he was going to a wedding because he loved learning the Book of Allah.”

“When he smiled, my heart would smile back,” Hamdeh said. 

Speaking to Ahmed, whose other 6-year-old son’s cries at the scene alerted authorities to the park, Hamdeh said “Teachers could attest to how cheerful Uzair was, and how well-behaved he was. That was a testament to you and your wife.”

He also offered words of comfort and faith: “From an Islamic perspective, death is not seen as the end of life, but as the beginning of the hereafter, the gateway to the afterlife.”

Gul Kahn, the coordinator for the Morris County Islamic Centers and founder of Different Faiths One Family, read a statement on behalf of the family.

“Our family is mourning the loss of a beloved mother, sister a wife and a friend of many here today,” he read. “She loved her children and she always tried to protect her children. Uzair was full of life and a beautiful smile. He loved his friends in John Hill School and JMIC.”

They asked that anyone wishing to make a memorial donation to send it in their name to the charity of their choice, adding “she loved the JMIC.”

“We appreciate the overwhelming and heartwarming response from the community,” the statement continued. “During this difficult time, we request privacy for the family.”

The family statement also called for town leaders to “install safety measures at the park and bringing awareness to the community.”

“We lost Warda and Uzair to a very tragic accident. Our lives will never be the same,” Khan said. “Let’s not let anything like that happen again.”

Attendees included Acting Morris County Prosecutor Mayor Richard Corcoran and Council Members Cyril Wekilsky and Marie DeVenezia.

Details emerged Friday on social media of an effort to organize an informal memorial Saturday at the Main Street bridge near Grace Lord Park and where the bodies were recovered. Plans are to construct “an interactive ribbon memorial on the fence.”

“This will not be a single effort, so much as an effort put forth by the entire town,” a Facebook post reads. “Starting Saturday afternoon, there will be a bin with white ribbons for those who would like to pay respects to stop by and tie next to the colorful flower heart that will be constructed in advance. We would also like to encourage those who would like to leave notes, flowers, and other items to do so.”

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William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: wwesthoven@dailyrecord.com Twitter: @wwesthoven

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