Grace Audrey McDonnell, age seven, died tragically on Dec. 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Grace came to Edgartown with her family every summer; her dream was to be a painter and live on the Vineyard.
A beautiful and artistic soul, Grace was a gift from God and represented all that is good in this world. She was passionate about painting and loved the beach.
She last visited the Vineyard in August with her family. “She has a CB Stark bracelet; it is with her,” Grace’s mother Lynn Zapf McDonnell told the Gazette.
She was born on Nov. 4, 2005, the daughter of Christopher and Lynn Zapf McDonnell of Sandy Hook.
The Vineyard played a large part in Grace’s life, and her parents recounted this when they met privately with President Obama who traveled to Connecticut following the tragedy. “I told him you had two things in common, and the first was a love of Martha’s Vineyard,” Lynn McDonnell said.
In addition to her parents, Grace is survived by her big brother Jack Sheridan McDonnell of Sandy Hook; maternal grandparents Frederick and Sheila Dunn Zapf of Stony Brook, N.Y.; paternal grandmother Mary Ann Gorbutt McDonnell of Shelton, Conn.; and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Grace was predeceased by her paternal grandfather Lawrence P. McDonnell and her namesake, maternal great-grandmother Audrey Dunn Franz.
Calling hours were Thursday. A memorial mass will be celebrated Friday, Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. in St. Rose of Lima Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations may be made to the Grace McDonnell Memorial Fund at Fairfield County Community Foundation. Please make checks payable to the Grace McDonnell Memorial Fund at FCCF and mail to Fairfield County Community Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851.
Mrs. McDonnell said Grace spent countless happy hours at Lighthouse Beach and State Beach in Edgartown, and the family has future plans to have her name placed in a cobblestone alongside others at the Children’s Memorial beneath the Edgartown Lighthouse.
“We are hoping to have Gracie’s name at the Light; she was the light,” her mother said.