The brave parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School victim Grace McDonnell opened their hearts on their tragic loss.

Little Grace was one of 20 pupils and six others killed when Adam Lanza opened fire in Connecticut last Friday.

“You felt like the floor was falling beneath you,” Lynn McDonnell said when explaining her first look at the little white coffin in the undertaker’s.

The coffin became a canvas when Lynn, husband Chris, and their surviving son Jack took out the Sharpie markers they had brought with them and began drawing all of Grace’s favorite things.

“By the time we were done, it was so covered by things she loved- included ice cream cones, lighthouses, and seagulls,” Lynn added. “We had peace when we left with the coffin full of colorful drawings and notes from those who knew and loved her best.”

Lynn’s last memory of daughter Grace was of the beaming child waving and blowing kisses to her from the bus, on her way to school.


Grace Audrey McDonnell







Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7, born on November 4, 2005, beloved and cherished daughter of Christopher and Lynn Zapf McDonnell of Sandy Hook, died tragically on December 14, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

A beautiful and artistic soul, Grace was truly a gift from God and represented all that is good in this world. She was passionate about painting, and she loved the beach. Grace’s dream was to become a painter and live on Martha’s Vineyard.

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; 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.

Family and friends may call Thursday, December 20, from 2 to 5 pm, at the St.Rose of Lima Church, 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown. A memorial Mass will  be celebrated Friday, December 21, at 11 am, in St. Rose of Lima Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider making a donation to the Grace Memorial Fund at the Fairfield County Community Foundation. If you choose to do so, please make your check payable to “Grace McDonnell Memorial Fund at FCCF” and mail it to Fairfield County Community Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, Norwalk CT 06851.