Sandy Hook victim Olivia Engel, 6, remembered for ‘ever-present smile’

Olivia Engel

Olivia Engel

AP Photo/Courtesy of the Engel family, Tim Nosezo, File

It is hard to find a photo of Olivia Engel in which she is not smiling. Those who knew the precious child best have said she rarely stopped grinning. 

“Olivia brought immediate joy to all those around her with her ever-present smile and adorably infectious giggle,” family members wrote in her obituary in 2012. “Quickly growing from a happy, bouncing baby who clung tightly to her stuffed lamb into an enthusiastic, loving little girl who always wanted to do and see more.”

Olivia, 6, died in the arms of a police officer on Dec. 14, 2012 — one of the 26 victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. She had been preparing to play an angel at her church's play that night.

"Now she's an angel up in heaven," Monsignor Robert Weiss said during her funeral.

In the immediate aftermath of her death, family members and friends took to social media to remember her as a creative pupil who enjoyed taking swimming and tennis lessons as well as art and dancing classes.

A Girl Scout and devoted New York Yankees fan, Olivia also liked playing soccer and taking boat rides with her father and grandfather. According to family members, she often wore outfits with pink and purple, her favorite colors. 

Linda Davies, who described herself as Olivia's musical theater teacher at Dance Etc in Newtown, wrote on Facebook that Olivia loved to sing and had participated in a performance of the musical Hairspray.

"Her smile was amazing, she was always happy, and she was the perfect student," Davies wrote. "She will be missed so much."

Olivia Rose Engel was born on July 18, 2006 at Danbury Hospital. In her short life, she found wonder in a host of activities, including attending CCD classes at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown. 

Family members have previously said Olivia was learning the Rosary and took great pride in saying grace for the family before dinner. Her family parents declined to be interviewed for this story. 

In an effort to honor her memory, Olivia’s parents, Brian and Shannon Engel, founded the Friends of Olivia Engel. The organization has been used to help direct donations to Newtown Park and Bark, an off-leash dog-park popular with local residents.

In a post on the park’s website, park volunteers said they were honored to receive the organization’s support and said the funds have been used to help maintain and improve the park’s infrastructure. 

"As a dog brings joys to our lives, Olivia will continue to bring joy to this community,” the volunteers wrote.