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Obituary: Charlotte Molinari

Family members grappling with the untimely, confounding death of 15-year-old Charlotte Molinari are trying to focus on what she shared with them in life: accomplished artwork, joy in music, love of the outdoors, and an appreciation for British television shows like "Monty Python" and "Doctor Who."

Always bent toward creative, artistic endeavors like painting, music and theater, the Santa Rosa teen enjoyed sports, camping and intellectual pursuits, as well, they said.

But there were emotional challenges that proved overwhelming, and Charlotte took her own life earlier this month.

"She was a brilliant, beautiful girl," said her maternal grandmother, Pat Murray, of Pinehurst, N.C. "And it's a tragedy that we'll live with the rest of our lives."

Erin Neal, an art teacher at Sonoma Academy, where Charlotte was a sophomore, described a "talented, smart, delightful child to be around," who was skilled as an artist but went beyond technique.

"She was able to pour herself into it and really use it as a way of communicating," Neal said. "And I think, for her, it was a very important part of her day to make art, and to write and to draw."

Born to John Molinari and Colleen Fernald, Charlotte Molinari was raised in Santa Rosa, attending Oak Grove and SunRidge schools in Sebastopol.

She loved playing soccer from an early age, in part because of her affection for her big brother, Jesse, who was an avid soccer player, her father said. She also played volleyball.

A vegetarian, Charlotte also enjoyed camping with grandparents in Sonora who would take her out in their recreational vehicle and arrange horseback riding trips.

But the arts just drew her in, whether it was writing stories, drawing, painting, acting, crocheting or playing musical instruments, including the flute, recorder and ukulele.

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