Most died at the very start of their young lives, tiny victims taken in a way not fit no matter one's age. Others found their life's work in sheltering these little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as their own. After the gunfire ended Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the trail of loss was more than many could bear: 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman's mother at home, and the gunman himself. Here's a look at some of those who died:
CHARLOTTE BACON, 6
JoAnn Bacon had bought her daughter a new pink dress and boots for the holidays. But Charlotte, an outgoing girl with long and curly red hair, couldn't wait, said her uncle on her mother's side, John Hagen, of Nisswa, Minn.
She kept asking to wear her new outfit.
On Friday, her mother gave in. She let her wear them and did her hair special for the end of the school week. No one could have imagined it would be the last day they would see her alive.
Her older brother, Guy, was also in the school but survived the shootings. Her parents, JoAnn and Joel, who had lived in Newtown for four or five years, and their extended family felt numb after the shooting, Hagen said. "She was going to go some places in this world," Hagen said. "This little girl could light up the room for anyone."
VICTORIA SOTO, 27
She beams in snapshots. Her enthusiasm was evident. She was doing, those who knew her say, what she loved. And now, Victoria Soto is being called a hero. Investigators said she was killed while shielding her first-graders. A cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News: "She was trying to shield, get her children into a closet and protect them from harm. And by doing that, put herself between the gunman and the children."
MARY SHERLACH, 56
When the shots rang out, school psychologist Mary Sherlach threw herself into the danger, rushing toward the shooter. Even as she neared retirement, her job was one she loved. Those who knew her called her a wonderful neighbor, a beautiful person, a dedicated educator. Her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, told the South Jersey Times that Sherlach rooted on the Miami Dolphins and relished helping children. She had planned to leave work early on Friday, he said, but never had the chance. "Mary felt like she was doing God's work," he said, "working with the children."
LAUREN ROUSSEAU, 30
Lauren Rousseau had spent years working as a substitute teacher and doing other jobs. So she was thrilled when she finally realized her goal this fall to become a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook. "It was the best year of her life," her mother, Teresa Rousseau, told the Danbury News-Times, where she is a copy editor.
DAWN HOCHSPRUNG, 47
Dawn Hochsprung's pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal there. Just this week, it was an image of fourth-graders rehearsing for their winter concert, days before that the tiny hands of kindergartners exchanging play money at their makeshift grocery store.
She viewed her school as a model, telling the Newtown Bee in 2010 that "I don't think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day." She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, she shared a picture of the school's evacuation drill with the message "Safety first." When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.
Officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.
EMILIE PARKER, 6
When her friends were feeling sad, Emilie Parker reached for the markers and colored pencils that she almost always carried.
"She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her," her father, Robbie Parker, said. Parker, 30, took deep, steadying breaths and fought back tears Saturday as he described his daughter. She had big blue eyes, lots of white-blond hair and a dusting of freckles across her nose. "Her laughter was infectious," he said. "All those who had the pleasure to meet her would agree that this world has been a better place because she has been in it."
She loved art. She loved trying new things -- except for food. But above all, she loved her 3- and 4-year-old sisters, Parker said. He was teaching her Portuguese. The last words he exchanged with Emilie were in Portuguese, he said. Emilie said good morning. She asked how her dad was doing. She said she loved him. "And I gave her a kiss," he said, "and I was out the door."
NOAH POZNER, 6
The reason Noah's parents moved from New York to Connecticut was so he, his twin sister and older sister could attend Newtown's top schools and live in a safe community, his uncle said. "Extremely, extremely mature -- when I was his age, I was not like him," said Arthur Pozner, of Brooklyn. "Very well brought up. Extremely bright. Extremely bright."