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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.

She loved listening to alternative rock music, and during a visit from her grandparents just three weeks ago, talked about some new music she'd been writing, grandmother Letty Molinari said.

John Molinari said his daughter wasn't sure what she wanted to be when she grew up but had great passion for her art.

A scholarship allowed her to attend Sonoma Academy, a small, private school that appealed to Charlotte because of the opportunity to be nurtured in her many talents, her father said.

"She had a real thirst for knowledge," Neal said. "You'd put an idea out there, and she'd take it farther than anyone else."

It remains unclear what took Charlotte to such a dark place that she contemplated harming herself. She was near the end of a two-week spring break from school when she snuck away from the west Santa Rosa home she shared with her father on April 14.

Despite efforts to search for her and a stream of texts and phone calls, she was not seen or heard from again.

Charlotte was found dead April 20 in Annadel State Park. It is unclear when she died.

Charlotte's father, in his effort to cope, said he recently asked a friend what the meaning of life is.

"And the answer I got was &‘community' – that everyone is caring for each other," John Molinari said.

"Charlotte was deprived of that in her own mind, even though she was loved by so many people," he said.

At her memorial, "I want us to come together and value her, see that there is a sense of community, that she is part of it."

In addition to her parents, Colleen Fernald, of Sebastopol, and John Molinari, of Santa Rosa, Charlotte is survived by step-brother Jesse T. Hay; grandparents Mo and Letty Molinari, of Sonora, and Pat Murray, of Pinehurst, N.C.; aunts and uncles Lou Molinari and Carla Feldman, of Santa Rosa; Guy and Teresa Molinari, of Santa Rosa; Linda and Kevin Dullea, of San Jose; Ginny Ferguson, of San Jose; Lisa and Ken Gullicksen, of San Jose; Kathleen Fernald, of Oakland; and Kevin Fernald, of Columbia, S.C.; as well as numerous cousins.

Family and friends will celebrate her life from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Marissa Imrie Memorial Scholarship Fund for students overcoming mental health issues at 1050 Chiquita Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448.

— Mary Callahan