The Sun News lost one of its own on Jan. 21.
Mandy Criswell, a award-winning designer and copy editor with the newspaper for eight years, passed away at the age of 33.
Friends, colleagues and former co-workers responded to the tragic news with an outpouring of memories and thoughts about Mandy and the impact she had on their lives. As a way to remember an important part of The Sun News team, this page captures just some of those memories. It is dedicated to Mandy.
“Mandy is as sweet, kind and happy a person as I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and the world is less bright and cheerful today with her gone. “—Ryan Elswick
“I will remember Mandy as a talented designer who carried her creativity over to her passion for baking. My wife and I enjoyed the super cute cupcakes Mandy made to help welcome our son to The Sun News family.” — Tom Yackley
“Mandy was a wonderful designer and an incredible friend. She approached everything with a smile and a sense of humor. During my time at The Sun News, she kept me giggling during shifts on the copy desk and made sure I saw dozens of sunrises on the beach. A few years after I moved on, she danced at my wedding in New Orleans, much to my delight. I will miss her kindness and her generous spirit. She truly was one of the best.” — Katie Ide
“I always was amazed at Mandy’s creativity and calm in whatever we were working on. I looked forward to our dinner breaks when I was on the copy desk and even later, as we kept up the tradition, because there was a lot of fun and laughter. The two of us could get lost going to Burky’s and get stuck in the strangest eateries, all because Mandy had a coupon. I miss her for so much more than that, but words fail me – days will be dimmer without her.” —Vicki Grooms
“I remember Mandy’s bubbly, often shy persona when I would bring crazy ideas for her pages or display of photos. Maybe her shyness was due more to my seriousness, as she didn’t know quite how to handle my straightforward personality.
“Since hearing of her loss, I’ve speculated on her thoughts about our working relationship. She would always smile at my crazy demands and offer me a cupcake or a piece of furlough pie. This told me she understood how I needed to loosen up without slapping me in the face with it. I always knew she was right. I was just too set in my ways and the baked goods were a good way to remind me of that.
“Mandy was a photographer’s designer and a friend and respected colleague. With her early passing, she reminds us that life is too short and you’ve got to live life with happiness and a smile. I will always remember her beautiful blue eyes and wonderful spirit. It was more than just her cupcakes or awesome designs. She symbolized what was good and honest and great about the world.
“Mandy, I promise I will smile a little more and not take things so serious.
“The lesson has been learned and you were a great teacher.” — Randall Hill
“Words don’t feel adequate to convey how much better Mandy made my life. She was my confidant, my own personal comedian and unique humor connoisseur, the sweetest person you could ever meet, and best cupcake and pie baker I was blessed to know.
“Mandy, you were always ‘just around the corner,’ but now I carry you forever in my heart and soul because you made this world a better place during your short time here.” — Tonya Root
“No one could lift this newsroom up like Mandy. From her sweet infectious smile to the sweet yummy treats she baked for us regularly, she was our ray of sunshine. Only Mandy could organize Easter egg and Halloween hunts that sent all of us scurrying around for the goodies like we were 3 years old. She watched donning rabbit ears on her head for Easter and put together prizes for the winners – all that work just to see us smile. That was her. Always thinking of how to brighten someone’s day. She approached her work with the same enthusiasm, always with a smile, always reliable, always doing a great job. A talented and respected journalist, a wonderful and special person. I’m heartbroken. Our newsroom will never be the same.” — Dawn Bryant
"Mandy has to be the most eternally positive person to have worked in The Sun News newsroom in the 21 years I’ve been there, and she all but forced the goodwill and happiness on her co-workers with her outward cheerfulness, community containers of chocolates and other goodies she kept stocked at her desk, and cupcakes and other baked goods she made for special occasions or no occasion at all. She added wit and humor to any conversation, but never at the expense of anyone else – or maybe it was just done so delightfully it was impossible to take personally. If my stories ran longer than budgeted, as is often the case, and Mandy was handling the design, she would without fail make the accommodation and pleasantly say it was no problem. She made things easier for her coworkers, and that was result of both her talent and charm.She carried her fun, positive spirit with her both at work and out of work. It was with her every minute I had seen her over eight years. She was just so nice in so many ways. We all wish we could have as much concern for other people’s spirits as she did. It’s so sad that she’s gone, but it will also be impossible to think of her without smiling." — Alan Blondin
“Every single time I was around Mandy, she was in a good mood. She always made you feel better. She could make you laugh at just about anything. She was a bright spot in the newsroom, and she will be missed!” — Anne-Kathryn Flanagan
“I don’t think of one memory when Mandy comes to mind. We’d known each other almost 12 years so I get bombarded with a lot of memories at once. We met at a newspaper – the first job out of college for both of us. There were midnight shopping trips to Wal-Mart, weekend trips to Greenville for dancing, her cupcakes for every occasion, and more. She made me a beautiful birthday cake with a tropical island on top. We carpooled to a friend’s wedding; she forgot her dress pants and I got a speeding citation. We took a cruise to the Bahamas together. When she came to Charlotte, she stayed with me (the Boston Market next door didn’t hurt) and we would talk for most of the night. She was funny, sarcastic and could find amusement in just about everything. I can’t believe I’ll never hear her laugh again but I’m so glad for the years I knew her.” — Tasha Steimer
“I moved to Myrtle Beach a few years ago for a job and didn’t know anyone. I met Mandy though mutual friends and always looked forward to our girls nights or meeting up for a night out on the town. My favorite memory of Mandy would have to be my past birthday. I wasn’t expecting presents but she came with a basket of assorted champagne samples as a gift. She remembered that champagne was my favorite beverage of choice and went out of her way to put together a whole basket of different bottles. But, that’s just the kind of person Mandy was. I also always loved out girls’ getaway weekends at local hotels and our get-togethers just won’t be the same without her. Lover of sarcasm, baked goods, and board games, I know she will be missed dearly by many.” — Meisha Bochicchio
“Mandy was one of the wittiest, friendliest people I’ve ever encountered. Her sense of humor kept me sane during deadlines, and her friendship gave me something to look forward to when we walked out the door. On one of my last nights in Myrtle Beach, we stayed out all night after deadline to watch the sun rise from the beach. She was game for anything, a supportive friend, and a master purveyor of baked goods.” — Emma Ritch
“It’s amazing what sticks with you about a person. As time ticks by and every moment makes Mandy’s passing more real, snippets of memories push to the surface. Mandy buying Mountain Dew by what seemed to be the caseload. Mandy and I riding the big roller coaster at the old Hard Rock Park/Freestyle Music Park multiple times trying to figure out if the best experience was in the front, the back or the middle rows. But what sticks with me the most, is that nothing really phased Mandy. No matter the deadline pressure, newsroom shenanigans or general life craziness, she would just shrug and keep calm, cool and collected. She wasn’t the loudest person in the room, but she was the one we rallied around. Mandy could get us all in a room, get us to do the weirdest things and laugh. She was the heart of the newsroom. So it’s not one memory, but the whole that made my friend. And I will miss you.” — Aliana Ramos
“There are so many fond memories I have of Mandy that it’s hard to pick just one. She was good at so many things, chief among them her ability to bring people together. It was at one of her famous gatherings that I met Jackie, the woman that I plan to spend the rest of my life with. I never got the chance to truly thank her for that. Mandy would frequently go the extra mile to make her friends happy, just because she knew something like making teal Jell-O for a CCU football tailgate (for a game she wasn’t even attending) would make her friend smile.
“The world is a little less bright without her. She made everyone’s lives better simply by being herself. She will be sorely missed.” — Randy Akers
“I met Mandy 10 years ago when I went to Greenwood. I remember my first impression of her being that she was pretty and quiet. I had no idea she’d end up being my best friend. When I got to know her, I realized she was also smart, incredibly funny and had an innate ability to create adventure everywhere she went. We both moved to the Myrtle Beach area at about the same time in 2006 and that ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it meant we stayed friends when we might have grown apart otherwise.
“I know without a doubt that my life will never be as full or as interesting as it could have been with her in it. Mandy could take anything, whether it was a long road trip or a night spent playing board games in my living room, and make it memorable. She knew all my secrets. I knew I could trust her with anything and there was something about her that seemed to make it impossible not to tell her things. Most of my best memories for the last 10 years have Mandy in them. Some of my worst memories do too, because she was someone I went to when things were bad. She spent last Valentines Day having a game night in my living room after the guy I was dating broke up with me that day. Amazingly, I think that will end up being one of my favorite memories, because she made that a good day. A couple of months later I met Randy at one of her parties. We just moved in together and we’ve talked about getting married (though I’m not certain I’m supposed to say that). It absolutely kills me that Mandy won’t be in my wedding or at what I know she would have made an epic bachelorette party.” — Jackie Broach
“Amanda was a wonderful person. I already miss her smile, her humor, the goodies she was known for, and the thoughtfulness that led her to just show up with something for everyone. Thank you, Mandy.” — Kenneth Gailliard
“Mandy was one of the sweetest, funniest, most kind-hearted and talented people I’ve ever met, and I feel so lucky that our paths crossed during our time together at The Sun News. She had a smile and a laugh that would cheer you up even on the worst of days and an incredible love of life. One of my fondest memories with Mandy was a road trip that several of us from the paper took together one year to her beloved alma mater Penn State, where I got to know her as not only a colleague but also an amazing friend. There were yearly shenanigans at the SCPA awards ceremonies, late nights hanging out crammed into a booth at Bumsteads, and her famous baked goods she’d bring in to the newsroom so often. Words can’t begin to express the loss. Mandy, here’s to you. From all of us whose lives you’ve touched – you’ll be missed.” — Jessica Foster
“Mandy did not like her named spelled with an ‘i’ and she put me in my place every time that horrid error appeared in text or email. Living together, we had only one apartment rule: No shoptalk! But we managed to break it every day (standing in the kitchen/dining area slurping down leftover jello shots from the previous TSN party). And then there was ‘cuddle time,’ when I snuggled up on Mandy’s leg while binge watching some random TV show (I’m sure she never really liked that ‘bonding time’ I might have drooled on her once). Mandy was more than a friend, colleague, or roommate. She was my just-in-time smile, cheerful chuckle, consoler, and witty neighbor. I am forever indebted and fortunate for having such a wonderful person influence my existence.” — Darrell Hughes
“The first time I can remember really laughing with Mandy – really getting to know her – was when we wore matching dresses to the SC Press Awards banquet in 2008. A year later, when Tolar and I had our beachwear-store themed going away party, who was my twin again? Mandy, of course. She was kind, she was generous, she was funny, and she was talented. She left behind a legacy in the newsroom and a hole in our hearts.” — Jenn Parker
“Mandy had a generous and creative spirit. I’ll always remember arriving at the hotel in Savannah where we went to celebrate my 25th birthday and walking into a room fully decorated with happy birthday signs and streamers – Mandy’s handiwork. She had a natural, effortless way of making those around her feel special, important. While I was at The Sun News she was my confidant, my drinking buddy, my shopping companion and, always, a friend I could count on. We shared a great many jokes and had a variety of adventures – both large and small – which I will treasure.” — Adva Saldinger
“I am grateful to be able to count Mandy as one of my dearest friends and I am truly going to miss her including her cupcakes, her sense of humor and her talent. There will absolutely never be another like her.” — Shavonne Walker
“I don’t think losing Mandy will ever truly hit me as hard as when I settle into work everyday. It’s one of those small things you never consider you’ll miss, because it’s such a small, however meaningful, part of your day. Every time I – or anyone else who entered the newsroom through the side door – walked in to work, Mandy was the first person I would see, every day, there to give me a smile and a hello. It will be impossible for me to enter that room, see her empty desk by the door and not think of her. It will be the daily reminder of how much I miss her, and an opportunity to remember the amazing person she was, all while grappling with the sad truth of how unfair and cruel life can sometimes be. It’s what we all will have to do, whether it be her family or friends or mere acquaintances, as incomprehensible as it may seem at the moment. RIP, Mandy, we’re all better people for having known you.” — Jeff Nowak
“It’s been so difficult to share my favorite memory with Mandy – one that’s fit to print. Upon first meeting and getting to know Mandy, she looked so sweet and straight-laced that I thought I would never have anything in common with her. It didn’t take long to learn that we shared the same dry, sarcastic, slightly inappropriate sense of humor and all of the same hobbies: eating delicious food, drinking with friends, and generally being silly. She quickly became my closest friend in Myrtle Beach. All of my favorite times in the nearly 2.5 years I’ve spent in Myrtle Beach include her. Whether it was a weekend staycation at an oceanfront resort, renting a pontoon boat for the day and cruising the Intracoastal Waterway, or riding the trolley at Coastal Uncorked, Mandy was there. Being part of an event thrown by Mandy meant it would be immaculately planned, overflowing with food and drinks and you’d be in for some of the most fun you’d ever have. Words can’t begin to express how much Mandy meant to me – means to me – and how deeply hurt I am by the loss of one of my closest friends.” — Maya Prabhu
"She's not old enough to have earned laugh lines.
"With her desk by the employee door, Mandy Criswell's the first face we see coming in the office and the last one at the end of the night. There was always a sly smile, an inside joke and an inevitable sigh. She's calm under pressure and at ease with the world.
"Any oddball, knuckleheaded thing we'd talk about in the newsroom and Mandy is quick to type a phrase in Google. Eggplant people? Mandy found it. She's so adept at turning phrases and computer searches that we started saying, "I'm going to pull a Mandy" when we had to settle a disagreement with Google.
"Two desks down, we played with Nerf guns and challenged each other to play Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots when we should have been working. Sitting so close, we heard all the same gossip and laughed at all the same jokes.
"There wasn't a monumental day that made us friends. It was just easy to like Mandy. There were so many little days - spending a night decorating the newsroom to surprise the morning crew on Halloween, hiding the Elvis cutout around the room to scare people, stealing the Elvis cutout in a drinkest in Little River, carrying an inflatable leprechaun to the beach after a press awards banquet, practicing a song on our Dollar Tree recorders or forming a band with electric guitar shirts and wooden blocks to bang, learning about the missing uranium in her hometown of Apollo, Penn., and knowing I'd have a three-day hangover any time I went out with her.
"Mandy has the quickest mind in the newsroom and never, NEVER fails to make us laugh." -- Janet Blackmon MorganShe made us cupcakes that fed out bellies and gave us smiles that fed our souls.