Hundreds crowded into the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Sunday afternoon to celebrate and honor the life of Davin A. Tackabury, a regional high school senior who died Sept. 1. Davin was remembered as a talented artist, an energetic child, a brave defender of the rights of LGBT teens and a kind, open friend.

Dozens of his photographs were on display throughout the Hebrew Center: a shiny frog on a leaf, the shadow of a window grate against an orange wall, pendulous buoys hanging from the side of a boat. There were also arresting portraits, and many of the young subjects of those photographs sat in the audience, shocked at the loss of their friend.

Rabbi Caryn Broitman opened the podium to anyone who felt moved to share their memories of Davin, and for almost two hours they did, many fighting tears.

Davin's award-winning photographs were on display. — Jeanna Shepard

One woman remembered picking up his parents, Kathleen and Wayne, from the airport when they first brought their new baby back to the United States from Kazakhstan. She said it was a full moon that night.

Davin attended summer camp with other Kazakh-American children, about 50 of whom traveled to the Island for the service. Some remembered going on night walks in the barn, jumping in the lake and staying up all night together talking. They remembered how Davin was there for them in hard times.

Many parents remembered Davin’s energy as a child and his strength and advanced abilities in gymnastics. He was often found climbing in unexpected places. A group of West Tisbury friends that called themselves the Gingerbreads remembered their annual childhood tradition of sleepovers and gingerbread houses as Christmas approached. One parent talked about how much Davin loved riding in a sleigh pulled by his tow hitch.

Another parent described Davin and his friends’ creativity, remembering how they would disappear together to create things for performances, coming out occasionally to ask for supplies for their projects: paper clips, scissors, adult pajamas.

Davin attended summer camp with other Kazakh-American children, and many friends from camp attended the service. — Jeanna Shepard

Davin was transgender, and he and his family helped guide the Vineyard community in becoming inclusive of people of all genders. His gymnastics coach described how he helped plan and organize an all-gender gymnastics meet, changing the rules and the scoring to eliminate differences in events and competition based on gender.

A representative from the state department of elementary and secondary education thanked Mrs. Tackabury for her and Davin’s work speaking to audiences at other Massachusetts schools about protecting trans kids. Davin often spoke about overcoming fear, saying fear should never have the last word.

Davin’s history teacher said though he did not draw attention to himself, everyone at the school knew and respected him through his art. One friend described the loss as the hardest of his life. He remembered a time when he and Davin were hanging out in the yard of an empty summer home and Davin taught him to do a roundoff and spontaneously did a backflip on the grass.

A few people described spiritual experiences that gave them comfort after Davin’s death: tingling and goosebumps, the appearance of a rainbow at Lambert’s Cove, a lone but friendly dog who sat beside them to watch the sunset.

For two hours friends and family recalled stories and moments with Davin. — Jeanna Shepard

Bella Giordano performed the song Sea of Love, which Mrs. Tackabury often sang to Davin as he grew up. After the remembrances formally concluded, family and friends lingered to look at Davin’s art work and to share more memories with one another.

“His photographs, as you can see, are breathtaking,” Rabbi Broitman said. “His voice and his vision will be with us through them.”

A Davin A. Tackabury scholarship fund has been established. The family has asked that people not send flowers but instead consider a contribution to the fund. Checks can be made out to MVRHS, with “In memory of Davin Tackabury” written into the memo line.

The mailing address is Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, c/o Marylee Schroeder, Treasurer, 4 Pine Street, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.