When Kara Rachel Fallon babysat, children often shed more tears when she left than when their parents did.
That's one of the memories friends and family shared at last week's crowded funeral for the teen, a Marin Jewish Community Center worker who died in an auto accident two weeks ago in Humboldt County.
The 18-year-old "loved children, especially babies, and knew how to handle them, how to make them happy," said Ann Pieczonka, staff supervisor for the MJCC's Kinder Daycare department, where Fallon worked for two years. "She was jovial, not moody. She had all these good qualities, and the children loved her."
Fallon saved the money she made at day care, as well as at the JCC's early childhood education department and from babysitting, to help her single mother put her through college.
The teen died while heading home from Humboldt State University, which she started attending just a week before her death. She had planned to surprise her mother and 14-year-old sister with a visit.
Instead, the driver of the car in which Fallon was a passenger lost control on Highway 101 near Garberville, according to the California Highway Patrol. The driver, a young woman from Concord, escaped with minor injuries, but Fallon died of her injuries the same day at Southern Humboldt Community Hospital. Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.
A graduate of Novato High School who planned to study business administration, Fallon was an accomplished athlete who played soccer, flag football, tennis and softball. She played clarinet and saxophone and loved to sing and dance.
But it was her generosity of spirit that stood out the most, say those who knew her.
"She always cared about other people more than herself," said her uncle Robert Harry Rovin. "She was always sensitive to what people needed and was quick to supply it."
One thing she supplied readily was hugs. "Her hugs were just wonderful," Rovin recalled. "She just held people in a way that was deeply comforting and also expressed her deep affection."
Fallon's funeral was held at Sinai Memorial Chapel in San Francisco Sept. 4.
She is survived by her mother, Lillian Fallon; her sister, Laurel Fallon; her grandmothers, Ita Lewin of Novato and Caroline Fallon of Norwalk, Conn.; her grandfather, Henry Dutchfort of East Hartford, Conn.; and many aunts and uncles. The family asks that mourners plant a tree in Fallon's honor.