Cheslie Kryst’s Family Reveals Details About Her Public Memorial
UPDATE: A memorial service for Cheslie Kryst is now underway at Elevation Blakeney. You can watch the livestream here.
Three weeks after Cheslie Kryst’s tragic death, a public memorial will be held Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In a statement, Kryst’s family recently said, “Public memorial plans have been announced for Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, attorney and ‘Extra’ correspondent, who passed away Jan. 30.”
“The family will host a public celebration of life on Friday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. [EST] at Elevation Blakeney. The celebration will also be live streamed, with the link available closer to the date of the service. The public is welcome to attend,” the statement continued. “The family will observe a private, invitation-only celebration prior to the public celebration, as they continue to ask the public to respect their privacy during this time.”
On Wednesday, Cheslie’s mom April Simpkins posted on her Instagram that there is "plenty of space" at the memorial for people to attend.
Cheslie’s family had previously set up the tribute website RememberingCheslie.com, where people can share their favorite memories of her.
Cheslie’s publicist LaToya Evans noted on “CBS This Morning” earlier this month, “They want to collect all of those memories that we’ve been seeing on social media that talk about how incredible Cheslie was.”
During the interview, LaToya recalled her final conversation with Cheslie, just 48 hours before she took her own life.
LaToya told Gayle King, Nate Burleson and Tony Dokoupil, “She sounded happy as usual. Nothing was amiss.”
Kryst had a “packed week” ahead, Evans confirmed. “We had meetings planned for this past week. She had photo shoots, [and] dinner with friends.”
“She was planning for her future,” LaToya stressed, “so it took us all by shock and surprise.”
Kryst’s death was ruled a suicide. Her mother April Simpkins revealed that she was “dealing with high-functioning depression,” which she kept hidden from everyone “until very shortly before her death.”
Nate reflected on working with Cheslie, saying, “Her light was always on.” When Nate asked LaToya if she could recall any moments where she was concerned, she said, “Honestly, I can’t. There were no signs because Cheslie didn’t show signs. She purposefully concealed those because she didn’t want to burden her family and her friends.”
As for how Cheslie’s family was coping with the loss, LaToya commented, “The family is full of grief. It’s a shocker, so they are still processing it.”
Over the past few days, April has been sharing her favorite memories of Cheslie with the #HoldingTightToMemories hashtag. In a recent Instagram post, she shared, “I got to travel with @chesliekryst a lot!! She would always ask me to be her plus one and I was always happy to oblige.💕 She would be out doing her job and I’d be making coffee runs, steaming her clothes, and taking pictures or videos for her to use on social media. 😊.”
“Whenever the night was over we’d put on pajamas and either have girl talk or scroll social media til we fell asleep. I’m gonna miss those girl chats and it hurts so much. 😔 I love you forever baby girl,” Simpkins continued.
In another post, April brought attention to Cheslie’s musical talents, like playing the violin and the piano. She wrote, “I miss hearing her play. 😔 Thank you all for your kind words and constant prayers. I need them.”
April also recalled their spontaneous trip to California, when they hiked Runyon Canyon. She wrote, “I remember asking Cheslie if I needed hiking boots. Cheslie, an avid and skilled hiker, told me I didn’t. So I went hiking in my sneakers. Bad idea. Lol! At one point, after slipping while descending (listen to my baby girl snicker, watch my son hang his head in shame🤣), she, in true Cheslie form, met me, took my hand and helped me down. ❤️ She often held my hand when we walked, hiked, or just because…”
Days after Cheslie’s death, April spoke out for the first time about her daughter’s suicide. She said, “While her life on this earth was short, it was filled with many beautiful memories. We miss her laugh, her words of wisdom, her sense of humor and mostly her hugs. We miss all of it — we miss all of her. She was a vital part of our family which makes this loss even more devastating.”
She included a message to her daughter, saying, “Cheslie — to the world, you were a ball of sunshine wrapped in smiles. We talked, FaceTimed or texted one another all day, every day. You were more than a daughter — you were my very best friend. Talking with you was one of the best parts of my day. Your smile and laugh were infectious.”
“I love you baby girl with all my heart. I miss you desperately,” she added. “I know one day we’ll be together again. Until then, rest easy and in peace.”
The family is asking that “in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Dress for Success, an organization that was dear to her heart.”
If you or anyone else is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.