Charlotte Sutphen dies

Charlotte Sutphen was 8 years old. - Lynette Huffman Johnson
Charlotte Sutphen was 8 years old.
— image credit: Lynette Huffman Johnson

Charlotte Sutphen, the daughter of Angie and Paul Sutphen, and sister of Maddie died on Sept. 14 at home in Seattle. She was 8 years old.

Charlotte was known to many Mercer Islanders, the students, teachers and staff at St. Monica School. Charlotte and her family were “adopted” by the school through the Sparrow Club, a nonprofit organization that matches families that have severely ill or disabled children with schools and other organizations to receive support for their ill child. Charlotte had severe neurological difficulties and was not able to walk or talk. She needed a ventilator to breathe. St. Monica School students raised money to help the family add a special shower in their home for Charlotte and helped pay for a special bed.

Despite her inability to communicate with words, both her mother, Angie, and Pam Dellino, the principal of St. Monica School, said that Charlotte taught much to those around her.

In her obituary, her family wrote: “For someone who did not speak, she communicated so clearly, helping us to quiet ourselves so we could hear her and be present.”

“She taught everyone everything,” her mother said by telephone on Monday. “I just gave her a ride.” She added that St. Monica helped the family in many ways.

“St. Monica taught us how to include others in Charlotte’s life and how to ask for and accept help,” she said. “They have been wonderful to us.”

St. Monica students continued to visit and communicate with the Sutphen family after their year sponsoring the family, sending greetings and goodies. Despite the difficulty of traveling, Charlotte had come back to visit at the Island school.

Dellino said the family gave to the school as well.

“Her family was such a wonderful example to all of us,” she said. “It is our privilege to help these families in even a small way.”

Each year the school is matched with another sparrow. In the front hall at the school are photos of all of the St. Monica “Sparrows.” Not one is forgotten. “Once a sparrow, always a sparrow to us,” Dellino said.

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