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Wellesley teen who died at field hockey practice remembered fondly

Casey Dunne waved a US flag as she ran across a field at Noble and Greenough School on Friday, shortly before her death.Noble and Greenough School

In the photo, Casey Dunne is dressed in red tights, a white skirt, and a blue long-sleeved shirt. She is on a playing field covered with bright green grass and lined with trees. The picture is filled with color.

But it's her exuberant expression that catches the eye. Dunne, 16, is running toward the camera, waving an American flag above her head.

To build team spirit, her field hockey team declared Friday's practice USA day, and a faculty member at her school, Noble and Greenough in Dedham, captured Dunne in a moment of joy.

"That was totally her," her father, Matthew Dunne, said Sunday. Casey was born on the Fourth of July, and she had an affection for all things patriotic.


The photo was taken Friday afternoon, a half hour before she suddenly collapsed during practice. Her death from a brain hemorrhage has shocked her friends and family, who described Dunne, a lifelong Wellesley resident, as someone with diverse interests who volunteered her time and brought enthusiasm and a love of life everywhere she went.

"There's a common refrain of how she brought joy to everything she did to everything around her," said her father.

It was unclear what caused the hemorrhage. Matthew Dunne said his family was unaware of any preexisting medical conditions. Dunne's field hockey coach, Maura Sullivan, who is also dean of faculty at Noble and Greenough, said Dunne was ebullient during her last practice.

A player collapsing on the field was "shocking" for the 22-member team, Sullivan said.

"It's a very close-knit group of girls," she said. "They've been very supportive of each other."

The team was preparing for a game on Saturday, which was canceled, along with all Noble athletic events.

Noble and Greenough faculty plan to gather Monday — a school holiday for students — to talk about how the school community will move forward following Dunne's death. Counselors will be available to meet with students when they return on Tuesday, said Head of School Robert P. Henderson Jr.


"It's particularly hard to lose a current student," he said.

Dunne, a junior, had joined the varsity field hockey team as a sophomore, and Sullivan said she also coached Dunne's older sister, Alexandra. Like her sister, Dunne wore No. 2.

She was a ballerina at the Boston Ballet school when she was little, and she also played lacrosse and ice hockey.

Dunne was also interested in the arts. She took voice lessons, enjoyed photography, and was in school drama productions.

"She always had a sort of drive," her father said. "She had this quiet confidence that drew people to her.''

Her interest in volunteer work began at a young age. She traveled to Romania to work in an orphanage when she was in eighth grade and went to Bolivia this past summer to deliver water purification units to communities that don't have clean water. Closer to home, she tutored middle school students to help them prepare for high school.

"It's so hard as parents to lose a child at 16, but we also look at her, and she had a full life for a 16-year-old girl," Matthew Dunne, who is chair of Thayer Academy Upper School History Department, said. Dunne's mother, Mary Higgins Dunne, is a trustee at Nobles and Tenacre Country Day School. Dunne had two older and two younger siblings.


Online tributes describe her as a kind and generous classmate and teammate, and several people shared memories of their interactions with her.

The family and school have shared funeral information for Dunne: Visiting hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at George F. Doherty and Sons Funeral Home, 477 Washington St., Wellesley, and a funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul Church in Wellesley.

Jill Terreri Ramos can be reached at jill.ramos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jillterreri.