Claire’s life and death
On Friday, December 8, 2006, Claire Cucchiari-Loring was killed by fatal gunshots from her estranged ex-boyfriend. Three weeks later she would have celebrated her 23rd birthday.
At the time of her death, Claire was a talented music major at Old Dominion University, working towards graduating magna cum laude in May of 2007. At ODU she sang with the jazz choir and madrigal singers, was a vocal soloist with the jazz band, and thrived in the close-knit ODU music family.
Old Dominion University Music Professor John Toomey said Claire had “a beautiful, natural voice, a wonderful gift,” reminiscent of the big band singers of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Singing jazz was her passion, and she hoped to make it her career.
An ODU friend said that even though she only knew Claire for a few months, she already had learned that Claire was “kind and fierce and compassionate and fiery.” These are two sides of Claire that stand out for many people: kindness to others, and a determined independence and strength and self-possession. Music was Claire’s great passion, from the time she was a tiny girl making up songs and belting them out. Claire had a weakness for Xena, jigsaw puzzles, and Sicilian rice-cheese balls, and shortly before her death she earned a green belt in self-defense. She was a thoughtful and generous soul, who took her responsibilities seriously, liked to question, and once interested in something would pursue that interest passionately. She was frequently hilarious, and just as frequently she was wickedly sarcastic.
Claire’s early school years were spent in Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily; Hamilton, NY; and Minoa, NY. She moved to Virginia Beach in 1996. In 2002 she graduated from First Colonial High School, where she was an honor student, color guard captain, drum major of the marching band, active in choral activities, and voted "most talented" by her senior class. During those years she was selected to participate in All-District and All-State Choruses and the Governor’s School for French. In 2001, as the vocalist with the “Young Razzcals” Jazz band, she performed on the main stage of the Telluride (CO) Jazz Festival.
Since 2007, Claire’s mother Kate Loring has tried to use Claire’s story to help others by addressing the manner of Claire’s death—speaking on college campuses and in public forums about Claire, healthy and unhealthy relationships, intimate partner violence, and victimization. See the Links pages on this website for some of those talks.
To honor Claire’s life, since 2007 Kate and some friends of hers and of Claire’s have put on an annual or biennial benefit event, “Her Melody Lingers On,” to raise funds for an Old Dominion University endowed scholarship established in Claire’s name, and to honor Claire and her love of music.
The Claire Cucchiari-Loring Memorial Scholarship endowment supports music students in the jazz program at ODU and is administered through the ODU Educational Foundation. Since 2007 the scholarship has helped fifteen student recipients, and the "Her Melody Lingers On" event has raised nearly $40,000.