Janice Hartsvet of Shoreview told WCCO that her sister-in-law, 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde, was killed in the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead Monday.
Hartsvet said her brother, Douglass Gaarde, waited 12 hours to hear the news.
"Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends," Douglass Garrde said in an email to the Associated Press. "We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.”
Gaarde, who worked on Navy contracts, lived in Virginia and had two children, ages 26 and 33.
The Washington Post's website has a memorial dedicated the men and women killed.
Investigators are looking into the life of former Navy reservist 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, the gunman who police believe acted alone in the shooting.
Alexis was killed in a gun battle with police. His motive is still unknown.
A Navy official speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that the service sought to kick out Alexis because of a "pattern of misconduct," but it was unclear whether the Navy had sufficient cause to push the case forward.
Alexis applied on his own to leave the Navy in January 2011 and was granted honorable discharge.
With honorable discharge, Alexis apparently was issued a government contractor access card that would have allowed him into the Navy Yard, the newspaper said.
Alexis worked for a group called The Experts, which was subcontracting with Hewlett Packard on a large military contract.
CNN says contractors can receive three levels of clearance: confidential, secret and top secret. Alexis had secret clearance, the middle category.