The Sun News is grieving and it’s important that you know why.
A beloved and dedicated member of our newsroom family is gone. Amanda Criswell, just 33 years old, died Wednesday.
You may not know it, but you will miss her too.
Her name won’t be familiar to you, unless you have read and memorized the names of staff members who have won awards from the S.C. Press Association and others. Hers was one of the most-published winners for her eight years of work as one of our premiere designers.
Designers and copyeditors are unsung heroes. Their work is mostly done in anonymity. They don’t get bylines and readers don’t know how much they rely on the abilities of these team members. Mandy, which is how she was known to her family and friends, was as much a part of your everyday news habit as those with familiar bylines.
Her death leaves a hole in our newsroom family, but not just because she was an excellent journalist. She was also the creative heart of our group when it came to having fun. Known as the cupcake queen, she provided needed sweetness to every occasion, and for no occasion at all.
Around Easter, she would don bunny ears and hide candy around our lot for her co-workers to find. When we had to come up with department themes for a company-wide Halloween contest, she was the fount of all the best ideas. One year, at her direction, the newsroom was decked out as Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with many of us in costume as Oompa Loompas.
Another year, we jumped on the Myrtle Manor bandwagon and created our own “trailer park” in a corner of the newsroom, complete with a pool, inflatable campfire, and a mini Airstream trailer. Yes, we dressed as characters in the show.
We have a reputation as the “bad kids” at the S.C. Press Association annual awards event because we go a little overboard in celebrating our team’s wins, and Mandy was often at the center of planning for and celebrating at that event. Dressing in leather with temporary tats as Harley-week attendees is just one banquet that leaps to mind.
Those are just a few of the reasons we are grieving, and why there will forever be a hole in our hearts and our newsroom.
Her death is incomprehensible, and there is nothing to be gained by trying to figure out the “why.” And we don’t yet know the “how.” The cause of her death, at least for now, is still unknown. An autopsy turned up no obvious life-threatening conditions and, thankfully, there is no sign of foul play.
What we do know is that we will honor her memory and try to live up to the standards she set for us as humans, and as journalists.
We will do her proud.