Grace Lovegrove brought joy and irrepressibility
to whatever she did, whether acting as church counselor
for young kids, pitching for her recreational softball team,
running cross country, or playing with her brother, Spencer.
She found something to smile or laugh about even in down
Grace wasn’t just a runner, but it
was important to her. Inspired by her uncle, David Lovegrove,
she started road races and then track in sixth grade. When
she moved on to Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Va.,
she was further encouraged by such coaches as Butch Lewis,
Chad Cox, and James Earl Jones, who was also her Uncle David’s
first track coach years earlier. She could always hear Jones’
booming voice, “That’s not running, Lovegrove,
Grace led the PH cross country and distance
teams her last two years and was co-captain of the cross
country and indoor and outdoor track teams her senior year
(2003-04). She earned 12 varsity letters at PH and was an
As a co-captain (with long-time running friend Lizzie Pack),
she not only helped lead training runs, but she also snuck
the team off for an unauthorized visit to the local snow
cone shack or sat and talked with the freshmen about dealing
with high school. Competitors remembered her easy smile
and nervous banter at the starting line.
Grace loved a lot of things. Cats, her
church community, singing, drawing, writing poetry, Cheerwine
soda, Joy Explosion camp, Ragged Mountain Running Camp,
flying June bugs on a string, the X-Men, and roller coasters.
She delighted in trips to Louisiana, where she visited her
long-distance friend, Kate, and devoured beignets, gumbo,
But running was important enough to her
that she chose college based partly on whether she could
run there (it also had to have a marine biology program).
Grace found what she was looking for at Christopher Newport
University in Newport News, Va., and in Coach Keith Maurer.
She quickly made friends and continued to bring smiles to
her teammates. In her first semester at CNU, she earned
second team conference honors in cross country and was an
Grace had almost finished an “easy”
10-mile practice run with an indoor track teammate on her
first day back from Christmas break when she collapsed in
the street from what would later be identified as sudden
cardiac arrest caused by an unexplained electrical problem.
Emergency room doctors and nurses restored a heartbeat and
blood pressure, but Grace died two days later on January
12, 2005. She was just 18.
Grace often thought of others, and from a relatively early
age had vowed to be an organ donor if possible, an idea
planted and encouraged by her mother. Four Virginians received
her kidneys, liver, and pancreas. One of those recipients
wrote to say that she hoped the transplant would allow her
to have children.