“Precious Kristi,” each ad begins.
Then, a haiku.
In 2014: “Your steel grey blue eyes, are not as much remembered, as they are enshrined. Love on your birthday. SK.”
2017: “Gentle morning mist, rising from a mountain lake, floats peace around you. Love on your birthday. SK.”
2018: “Your smile was brightest, during this season of peace, your presence hovers. Love always, SK.”
Twice a year for two decades, these memorial ads have run in the Tampa Bay Times — March 1 for her birthday and around Christmas, because that was Precious Kristi’s favorite time of year.
SK started running them in 2001.
He wanted to share her, for people to feel as if they’d met her and, over time, to help the reader think of someone they loved, too.
Obituaries tell us who someone was. Memoriams, those ads that often start with “In Loving Memory,” tell us how they’re remembered.
Here are three.
In loving memory of Minson R. Rubin …
Jeanette intended to stay in the car. She’d gone with her sister, who planned to give her boyfriend a birthday present. But when they arrived at his house, she was coaxed inside.
There, she met Minson R. Rubin, who looked her up and down, wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and asked her to call him.
She looked for that piece of paper later, emptying out her purse. But the next week, looking out the window of her apartment, she saw him drive up.
“And that’s how it began.”
Minson R. Rubin was a basketball star at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, then a teacher and coach, and later an advocate for preserving the history of Gibbs and Black St. Petersburg. He died Feb. 1, 2020. His wife visits his grave each week.
Later this month, his preservation work will be honored with a series of events.
Like she did last year, his wife took out a memorial ad.
“Your legacy lives on,” Jeanette Rubin wrote. “Rest in Peace.”
In loving memory of Kevin D. Crump …
When Emma fell in love with a well-mannered businessman who preferred shorts to suits, she left home and family in the Philippines for Tampa and Kevin Crump.
The couple, who both worked in real estate, loved watching HGTV and Formula One racing together. They cruised to the Caribbean and Alaska and took trips to New Mexico and Las Vegas. They planned a trip to Italy, where Emma Crump, who is also an architect, wanted to see St. Peter’s Basilica. They clicked, but they were also so different. She grew up surrounded by family and made time for church. He could work through nights and weekends if she didn’t stop him.
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Kevin Crump died in 2008 at 48. They’d been married for five years.
“It has been 13 years today since you left us with precious memories…” Emma Crump wrote in a memorial ad that ran for her husband in September.
She takes out the ad each year “just to remember him.”
And that trip to Rome?
“I’m still planning for that.”
In loving memory of Kristi Michael ...
SK didn’t always write haikus.
At first, his messages were longer. He’d take them in person to the obits department at the then-St. Petersburg Times. Obits department employee Loretta Thompson helped him place the ads for years. She remembered him each time and looked at him warmly. It made the painful task easier.
Stan Kozma met Kristi Michael on the Clearwater set of a local shopping network in the 1990s. She was a makeup artist. He did cameras and lighting. They knew each other long before they started dating.
They had three years before she was diagnosed with melanoma and three after. Kozma created and produced the documentary More Than Skin Deep in 2010 and spent years working for melanoma awareness. He plans to create a feature film about her life and work.
Kozma now takes out the memoriams online. He turned to haikus as the cost of death notices rose. It took senior obituary representative Wes Parker three years to recognize the twice-annual Precious Kristi posts were in the form of Japanese poetry.
For everyone who places the ads each year — from the couple who remember their son and have a provision in their will to keep them running, to the woman who memorializes her child’s death and names the police department she believes didn’t do enough to investigate it — they’re like a message in a bottle to this world and beyond. The message is simple: We’re thinking of you.
Kozma doesn’t have to set calendar reminders or leave himself Post-It notes to remember to take out his ads. Like grief, they’re part of his life.
After 21 years, he sees that grief as an odyssey. It doesn’t have a time frame. It can include joy.
“Precious Kristi,” he wrote in 2021. “I breathe in your presence. I breathe out our love. Peace on your birthday, SK.”
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