Friends and family gathered Tuesday to remember Gina Rose Montalto, 14, an accomplished high school student known for good grades, an infectious sense of humor and an approach to school and sports that spoke of dedication and enthusiasm.
“Just a sweet kid — bright, articulate, a sports woman,” said A.J. Henry, a friend of a Montalto relative who attended the morning service at the Mary Help of Christian Catholic Church in Parkland. “Loved by all. All.”
Gina died Feb. 14 from gunshot wounds, one of 17 children and adults killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, where she was a freshman. An obituary posted by the family described her as a successful student who happily juggled activities inside and outside of Douglas High.
She was a Girl Scout. She created illustrations for a local magazine She volunteered at church. She played soccer and flag football in local leagues. An avid reader, Gina earned top-notch grades, and was a member of the school’s Color Guard, a squad that performs choreographed routines as part of the Douglas marching band program.
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“Gina will be missed not only by her family, but by everyone whose life she touched,” read the obituary written by Gina’s parents, Tony and Jennifer Montalto, to accompany a scholarship fund they started on gofundme.com in honor of their daughter. “She was best buddies with her little brother and she loved her whole family, especially all her cousins.”
People who attended Tuesday’s service left the church wearing ribbons in baby blue, described as Gina’s favorite color. Some wore ribbons of maroon, too, a Douglas color. The service was closed to media.
Those who attended said her father delivered the eulogy. A United Airlines captain, Tony Montalto was honored by fellow pilots, who lined up in uniform to flank the family as they exited the church.
Jeff Bretzer, a fellow United pilot, said the service celebrated Gina as a person who shared her happiness with others.
“She was a very kind and giving person. Very charitable,” Bretzer said. “She just had a zest for life that was unbelievable.”