Rubber ducks were a thing that Casey Dunne had a quirky love for.
Monday—days after she collapsed and died while at field hockey practice—several rubber ducks were left on the school crest that’s painted onto the turf at Noble and Greenough in Dedham. Each one had the 16-year-old Wellesley native’s name and a brief note scrawled on its side.
They were laid alongside several field hockey balls weighing down a single white rose.
“Casey was a fabulous, spirited, joyous kid,” her father, Matthew Dunne said Monday. “It’s a huge shock. We are sometimes a wreck and sometimes managing.”
The high school junior brought her spirit, and an ability to relate to anyone, to everything she did and, in the days since her passing, members of all the communities she was a part of have stepped up to offer their support, he said.
“She knew how to connect with people and open them up and make them feel happy,” Dunne said Monday, sometimes alternating between the past and present tense as he spoke about his late daughter.
“My brother in law always comments on how Casey connects up and down the line,” he said. “With kids who are older she totally fits in and hangs out with them, and the kids that are younger she knows how to play.”
As a young girl she participated in ballet and danced in The Nutcracker. She played hockey on the first all-girls team in Wellesley, served as a counselor in training at her summer camp and tutored low-income kids for Noble’s Achieve program.
“If there’s another thing that I think is just really special about her, it’s her generosity,” Dunne said, explaining his daughter’s involvement with Achieve specifically. “She really made a commitment to it and even if she had a field hockey game that day she’d want to work in the morning. She made it a priority.”
She had a field hockey game scheduled for this past Saturday, but it was cancelled after Dunne suddenly collapsed and later died from a brain hemorrhage.
Her birthday was July 1, so she connected with all things patriotic according to her dad. At her final practice, the theme was “USA Day.”
“When it was Fourth of July time she always had an outfit,” he said. “When they did this USA Day to pump up for their next game, she had all the gear she needed.”
The last photo of Casey, taken approximately 30 minutes before she collapsed, showed Dunne running toward the camera in red, white and blue garb and carrying an American flag with an enthusiastic expression spread across her face.
“You can see in that picture how happy and joyous she just is, all the way to the end,” Matthew Dunne said.
The rubber ducks, he added, are just one way that Casey will be remembered as part of an everlasting presence she’ll have in the lives of her family and friends.
“That will be one of the simple ways,” he said, “but I think all of the things we do as a family, Casey will always be there.”
Beautiful and bittersweet!