Those who knew Krista Depew ’15 — who died May 26 in Albany, N.Y., after contracting meningitis — described her as a smart, caring, down-to-earth girl who was dedicated to her family and friends.
Depew, who was 19 years old, was “a proud farmer's daughter and a genuinely great person,” said her friend and hallmate, Conor Goetz ’15.
An applied economics and management major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Depew was interested in agribusiness, or the production operations of farms. At school, she was focused on her studies, was a member of Alpha Phi sorority, worked at Cornell Fitness Centers and volunteered at Cornell’s dairy barn.
She also worked on her parent’s farm in her hometown of Argyle, N.Y., played softball at her high school and graduated as valedictorian before coming to Cornell, The Post-Star, Depew's hometown newspaper, reported.
According to Jenine Depew, Krista’s father’s cousin, Krista always made time for Jenine's children, even when away from home at Cornell.
“It was amazing; she would babysit for [the cousin] a lot, and they always loved to have her come over to babysit,” Jenine Depew said. “She was an idol to our kids — that’s for sure.”
Goetz also noted Depew’s dedication to her family and friends. A typical weekend for Depew would include studying, working at the dairy barn and going to church, Goetz said. Aside from her other obligations, Goetz said, Depew would also be sure to make time to see her friends.
“Really, the first word that comes to mind when I think about Krista is loyalty. She would do anything for the many people she loved, and they felt the same way. During the second semester, when the pledge process disrupted and ended many friendships, Krista remained loyal to all of her friends,” Goetz said. “She really went out of her way to foster these friendships.”
Liz Harrington ’15, a member of Alpha Phi who was also Depew’s hallmate, said that people knew Depew as “the life of the party.” According to Harrington, however, she was “so much more than that" — a reliable person “her friends could count on for anything and everything.”
“If you needed someone to go on an outrageous adventure in the middle of finals week with, Krista was your girl. If you simply needed a friend, Krista would be there in a second,” Harrington said. “Krista always had her friends' backs no matter what.”
Aside from her loyalty to her friends, Harrington said, Depew was personable and could get along with “all types of people.”
“Krista couldn't care less about status or stereotypes. She formed her opinions of people solely by her experiences with them,” Harrington said.
Stephen Love ’14 agreed. One of his favorite memories of her, he said, was when Depew joined his intramural water polo team even though she was working at the opposite side of campus before the team’s games.
“Playing with us was going out of her way, but she did it anyways,” Love said.
He added that the first night the team played, Depew joked about trying to keep her hair dry during the game. She had successfully kept her hair from getting wet by the end of the game, Love said, but “as she was getting ready to go ... I picked her up and dunked her in.”
“Most girls who spend that much time keeping their hair dry would have freaked out, but she thought it was hilarious,” Love said. "She had this smile that was so huge and sincere that I knew she wasn't mad.”
Another close friend, Heather Hunt ’15, remembered feeling at ease with Depew even at their very first meeting and thought she “could see myself being friends with [her].”
Recalling staying up all night with Depew taking care of cows before Cornell’s annual sale, Hunt said “we froze our butts off in the barn but managed to make it a fun night.”
When they spent nights out together, Hunt said they would lose each other and end up at different places “before we knew it,” but would still have fun.
Hunt said Depew had a “crazy” personality, and could “pull off life with hard work and not let a bad test get to [her].”
Despite having to juggle a busy social life with her academics and extracurricular activities, Depew “pulled it off like a champ,” Hunt said.
“There wasn’t a part of [her] life [she] didn’t fill with sarcastic humor,” Hunt added. “[She] had all those characteristics a girl wishes she had rolled into one. A true friend and loving heart.”
Jeff Stein contributed reporting to this article.