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Life Story / Obituary
Our loved ones remain near when we keep their love and memory a heartbeat away. Although life for Chrissie Kausrud ended much too soon, Chrissie had a rewarding life spent doing what she loved each and every day. Tenacious and driven, Chrissie put her heart and effort into everything she did. She was a unique woman; Chrissie did everything and lived life on her own terms, and excelled in doing so. Life will never be the same without Chrissie, yet the memories she leaves behind remain a lasting treasure.
Life for Eric and Theresa (Sydlik) Kausrud of Kalamazoo, Michigan was especially eventful in 1991 when on May 16 they announced the birth of their precious little girl, Christin Kay. She joined her older brother, Jason, and the two came to create a bond that remained close to their hearts.
Even though Jason was two and a half years older than Chrissie almost to the minute, Chrissie never allowed Jason to leave her behind. Jason and Chrissie were so close and became even closer when Jason began driving and they were forced into the same car every day. Many years later, Jason often called Chrissie on his way to car auctions to stay awake and Chrissie would call Jason on her cross-country drives. They spent hours talking about anything and everything in life. Chrissie and Jason were best friends. Though they lived states apart during their adult years, they always made it a point to spend time together at their parents’ home when she would visit. Chrissie always looked forward to her trips home. Theresa would cook Chrissie's favorite meals and the four would spend hours sitting in the office at night just enjoying each other's company.
Chrissie's love for horses started at a young age, when she read her first book about horses. From that moment on an equestrian was born. She went on to follow every horse series and, to this day, each of these precious books remains in her home. Riding lessons soon followed when she was seven years old along with her cousin, Kaitlin. Chrissie longed for her own horse one day. On Christmas Day, when she was ten years old, much to her dismay, Chrissie received only a picture of a horse.... it wasn't until she had calmed down and her parents were able to explain to her, that she realized the picture was of HER horse. A rescue horse from the race tracks, Chrissie and Bourbon (Mystery in the Making) came together as a team, learning from each other and becoming one of the best hunter jumper teams, winning numerous competitions throughout grade school and high school until she left for college.
Chrissie had many trainers in her life but Jim and Marilyn Murphy were an influential and huge part from elementary through high school. In fact, Jim was like a second dad to her. They owned Huntington Valley Equestrian Center in Lawton and Chrissie’s Huntington Valley family was most certainly an extension of her own family. Jim always told her, “If you’re going to cry, you’re not going to show for me.” He didn’t put up with her temper tantrums, especially at shows. He was tough as nails, but she loved him like a father and mentor that he was. At that point in Chrissie’s life she needed someone like Jim who wouldn't put up with her attitude. Her family fell into it, and Jim wouldn’t. In many ways, Jim and Marilyn made her into the woman she came to be. Jim had nicknames for Chrissie like, “Chinaman” and “Hillbilly.”
Early on, Chrissie and Theresa spent most weekends at horse shows together where they created a mother daughter bond that would never be broken. When she was not showing, Sundays became a traditional father daughter day where Eric and Chrissie bonded over coffee and books at Barnes and Nobles. When going to the bookstore, there was only one rule: no more than five books. They’d find a cozy place to sit, and from the time she was seven years old, she and her dad would enjoy Starbucks and browse through the books. Quite typical for Chrissie to have found ten or twelve, her dad stuck to his rule, making her choose five thick ones. Once in the back seat of the car, not a word was said on the ride home because Chrissie would be reading, sometimes even reading a book or two before they even got home! These times shared became very special to their close-knit family.
Memorable times were also enjoyed during many spring break vacations in Cancun and the Bahamas with close family friends. No matter the location, the first thing Chrissie did was to look for a place to ride.
Having become quite proficient competing and as a member of her Equestrian team, Chrissie also excelled in her studies and most everything she put her mind to. She was way ahead of other students academically, which was just one of the many ways she put her driven nature to task. She earned scholarship money, maintained a high GPA, and scored almost a perfect score on her ACT. From the age of 7 until she graduated high school she competed as a member of LMHJA; she competed on the high school equestrian team, and she joined the ski team because they didn’t have enough girls. She went on to become team captain her senior year before graduating from Mattawan High School with the Class of 2009.
It was a tough decision, but she chose to give up Bourbon and go to Findlay, the school of her dreams. With much consideration, she was able to find Bourbon a good home with someone who would love, care, and keep him for the rest of his life. There was no doubt what Chrissie wanted to do with the rest of her life. After high school, she went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Science and Finance from the University of Findlay in Ohio.
Chrissie made some of her best friends at Findlay University. Roommates and friends that just got closer after graduating. Chrissie spent an enjoyable summer working for the Stormanns in Germany with her friend Kayla.
Chrissie was never afraid of taking risks. Throughout this time, she lived in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, and Wisconsin until she finally found her niche. Always an avid reader and quite a library person, it didn’t matter where she lived, if Chrissie stayed anywhere longer than a week, she became a member of the library.
During this time, Chrissie worked for Dave and Laura Steffe, a temporary job that turned in to 4 years after they just fit together. Dave and Laura welcomed Chrissie into their lives and family. While caring for their horses and traveling with them in Kentucky and Florida, one of Chrissie's favorite memories was when Dave flew Chrissie and her friend KT in his helicopter to Universal Studios to visit Harry Potter world. Chrissie fell in love with the Harry Potter series and could easily read a Harry Potter book over a weekend horse show. While there, Chrissie and KT visited the wand shop. The music was playing and KT and Chrissie were arm and arm walking in together with the wands Chrissie had secretly crafted for the two of them. Chrissie was so surprised to have been chosen for the wand ceremony out of everyone that was there. Chrissie was special and even those who had just met her knew it. Her favorite house was none other than Slytherin. Her mom’s friend knitted a Slytherin scarf for Chrissie because it had to be “just so.” Chrissie was a Slytherin through and through.
Relationships were important to Chrissie and just as distinct as Chrissie was. She and her family always remained close. She spoke to her dad every morning, on his way to work where the discussion covered views on world news, life events, books, religion and most importantly many jokes. She also called her mom two to three times throughout each day to discuss anything and everything that mattered or didn’t. She held fast to close family communication, and sometimes when she called her mom and there was no answer, she’d try again until she would try her dad and Jason, asking, "Where's mom? Is mom home?"
When it came to her canine companion, Chrissie was all about Penny, named after the Beatles song, “Penny Lane”. When Chrissie was looking for her best friend she did it in true Chrissie fashion. She took her time and searched for her best fit. She visited the Peggy Adams animal shelter many times. When they brought in a 7-year-old dog full of scars and her ears chopped off, Chrissie looked past all that and saw her eyes and knew she was the one. Chrissie and Penny were inseparable. Chrissie and Penny got to know their local barista and even Penny would get her own special whipped cream treat.
She also experienced the wonders of Rome with her dear friend Sophie. She went to Nashville with Jason and his wife, Kristen and the three of them had such a memorable trip dancing the day away.
Just some of the many things loved about Chrissie were the ways in which she organized herself with lists. She always let her parents know where she was and what she was doing. When it came to music, Chrissie liked everything, particularly country. Her family was shocked to learn she could rap! Even though she wouldn’t do it in front of family, she did so with friends in college. Another unique part of Chrissie was her interest in shooting. Several years ago, while living in Florida she obtained her concealed weapons license. She was always offering to help her friends learn to shoot. Never afraid of guns, she grew up around them and the last time she was home she went clay pigeon shooting for the first time with Jason and her dad.
In the last few months of her life, Chrissie landed her dream job working for Donald Cheska as an assistant horse trainer. He and his family included Chrissie as a part of their family. True to her achieving nature, even the week before she passed, Chrissie jumped some of the highest jumps of her life. With his encouraging words, Chrissie was heading in the direction she always wanted.
Chrissie was the happiest and in her element when she was riding, was with her dog, when she had coffee and books, enjoying anything Harry Potter, or when she was with her family and close friends.
In living, Chrissie always did what she thought was right. She contemplated decisions, how it would affect her, and those around her. She was her own best advocate, and she’d tell you when she felt wronged. She was a vibrant, creative and beautiful soul who expelled confidence. Full of promise, Chrissie's story came to an abrupt end yet her memory lives on in those who came to know and love her.
Chrissie Kay Kausrud, age 26, born in Kalamazoo on May 16, 1991, to Eric and Theresa (Sydlik) Kausrud, passed away June 5, 2017 in Milwaukee, WI where she worked as an assistant horse trainer. Chrissie is survived by her parents; her brother, Jason and sister-in-law, Kristen; many aunts and uncles; her cousins who were her best friends; and her step-grandfather, Jack Parsons. Chrissie was preceded in death by her grandparents. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269-375-2900) followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Please visit her personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the SPCA of Southwest Michigan or the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, West Palm Beach, FL.