She had it all...a budding career as an international model, a loving family, a network of close friends, and an asthma condition that killed her at the age of 17. Rachelle Unreich pays tribute to Krissy Taylor.

I remember the time I interviewed Krissy Taylor over the phone. She was at home in Florida and I was calling from Dolly offices in Sydney. She was only 15, but it was obvious that she had it together—she was down-to-earth, fun, smart and incredibly likable. I was struck by the fact that amidst a world of modeling, she was comfortable with herself and her physique without obsessing about it in the slightest. She saw modelling as a good time, but her real career goal was to be a wife and mother. Her untimely death at the age of 17 makes that desire doubly sad—even though she may have achieved the dreams of most teenage girls by landing on the covers of magazines like Dolly and Seventeen, she hadn’t even come close to realising her own ambitions.

Kristen Taylor cam from a close, devoted family. Her parents, Barbara and Ken, made sure she was taken care of when she was modeling by having their daughter chaperoned on assignments. And Krissy always gave her family and friends priority over her work—she’d often cancel shoots if her school was holding a big event and she loved nothing better than hanging out with her twin nephews and niece. Krissy and her supermodel sister, Niki, weren’t competitive at all—just incredibly supportive of one another. It says a lot about Krissy that her family asked for donations to be make in Krissy’s name to DISHES, a foundation for pediatric AIDS sufferers, instead of flowers or gifts.

When news first broke of Krissy’s death, many who didn’t know her found it hard to believe there wasn’t some kind of sinister cause behind it. In fact, an autopsy revealed that Krissy died from complications arising from asthema and the use of the over-the-counter inhaler, Primatene. Those close to her say Krissy was a girl who had nothing to hide. She didn’t diet and loved to pig out on fried chicken. She didn’t date stars and was completely against drugs and alcohol. Her death was accidental and very tragic.

Hardly any of her friends from high school could believe Krissy had died. Just the night before, she’d been at a football game cheering on the team coached by Niki’s husband, Matt Martinez. As successful as she was in the world of high fashion, it was just a way to earn money to buy the things she liked: country music CDs and a pickup truck she called “Big Blue.”

Even though it’s been months since her death, her friends are still sending her messages on her personal beeper, saying things in code like, “I love you.” She didn’t have a boyfriend when she died, but there’s no doubt that many, many people loved her. In her short life, she left a rare and lasting impression of goodness and warmth. Celebrities like Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter, Liv Tyler, Elle Macpherson and Naomi Campbell have all offered their condolences, while her friends know that life will never be quite the same for them again. Still, they say that Krissy would have hated for them to be sad, and so, at the sunset memorial service held for her in Florida where her truck was parked within each mourner’s view, a display of fireworks ended the ceremony. Those attending the service also received an affectionate poem about Krissy, written by her parents. Niki, who was the first to find her unconscious sister, was too upset to speak, but her eldest sister, Joelle, gave a eulogy and close friends of Krissy’s spoke, as well.

It’s hard to take anything negative from Krissy’s death—she was a loving girl whose life was cut way, way too short. Dolly readers and staff members alike adored her—you can tell by all the times she appeared on the Dolly cover. Her family knows how much we’ll miss her and even though we can’t share their grief, we feel our own.

Written by Rachelle Unreich.