Kristina Gray, every time she had another idea for another historical series on a certain topic in the Crookston and Polk County area bouncing around in her head, would always ask if we (the Times) would be interested in publishing more articles authored by her.

Kristina Gray, every time she had another idea for another historical series on a certain topic in the Crookston and Polk County area bouncing around in her head, would always ask if we (the Times) would be interested in publishing more articles authored by her.

We always thought it was kind of funny in the news- room, how she'd ask the Times if she could write another series of articles for us to consider for publication, on her typical day and page, every Friday on our Et Cetera Page. Like she had to ask. She'd always be greeted with an enthusiastic "yes," and so the process would begin anew: On Tuesday or Wednesday, she'd email some historical photos to go with her latest article. Then on Wednesday or possibly early Thursday, she'd email the article, usually with a couple of sentences written by her in the body of her email bemoaning the fact that, once again, she feared that we'd think it was too lengthy. But, once again, she wrote, she'd tried to shorten it, but there was so much interesting information to share and so many interesting stories to tell, she simply could not bring herself to cut out much.

We didn't mind. Her dedicated following of readers likely didn't mind, either.

Word from Kristina's husband, Ken, is that she was going over her latest piece for the Friday, June 1 Times at their dining room table when some time during the night late last Wednesday or early Thursday she unexpectedly passed away.

This latest series was typical Kristina. She'd been many articles into a separate series on the Northwest School of Agriculture, the Northwest Experiment Station and their earliest leaders, when she strolled into the newsroom a few weeks ago to, again, ask if she could pause that series for a bit because she'd stumbled onto some particularly interesting stories on the Native American experience in this area, and felt the need to start telling it immediately. Again, she was given the green light to do as she wished.

Kristina's life was sadly abbreviated, but what a life she led. Did you read her obituary? It'll wear you out. She'd been everywhere and done just about anything. She had a zest for life and art and music and, obviously, history, but she was looking forward as well, while still always keeping a keen eye trained on the past. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the project she spearheaded with her composition stu- dents at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Each semester, she'd have the students interview their grandparents and then tell their stories through the written word, and if the students were OK with it, she'd send their stories to the Times to be published. Kristina got a big kick out of watching her students learn so much about their grandparents, and was proud of what they wrote.

Another example of looking back, and ahead, can be found at the under-restoration Carnegie Building. Kristina spearheaded much of those efforts, making sure an iconic Crookston building can be enjoyed by those who know its past, as well as those who don’t. She loved that building.

We'll end this remembrance of Kristina with not exactly her words, but words she chose that were authored by someone else, the late English writer Arnold Bennett, in the form of a quote she included at the end of every email. Countless people include similar inspiring, incisive thoughts with their email "signature" as well, but the fact that Kristina chose the words she did speaks volumes about the type of person she was, and what she valued: "There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul."

Kristina Gray’s mission each day seemed to be to, simply, raise the bar. Her presence will be missed, as will her persistent, passionate efforts to move forward in a positive fashion, while pausing to look back and not just remember our past, but celebrate it when appropriate, and keep its stories in our minds.