From childhood friends to those closest to her the day she died, Jamie Newkirk was known for the infectious joy she bestowed on everyone she met.
Her smile, laughter and passion for life were the calling cards that friends and co-workers again and again said defined an amazing young woman.
“You never saw Jamie feeling sad or upset. She had a smile on her face 100 percent of the time,” said Jennifer Tarrant, a classmate at Olathe Northwest High School. “She was the life of all gatherings, and I was blessed to experience such a happy soul.”
Tarrant is now mourning the loss of her friend, who was shot to death early Sunday in Overland Park at age 27. Her killer, Jason Crabtree, took his own life, police said.
Newkirk’s family requested privacy Tuesday but released a statement through the funeral home handling the arrangements.
In it, she was described as “intelligent, self-confident, energetic and selfless in everything she did.”
“Here is what my darling sister taught me: eat good food; always look good; listen to good music (although we will disagree on what that music is); visit a beach as often as you can; surround yourself with the best of friends and family; lift your head high; live, love and laugh like crazy,” her sister Morgan Newkirk said in the statement.
After high school, Jamie Newkirk attended Kansas State University and graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in apparel and textiles.
Her family said she was using that education to pursue fashion, “the career of her dreams.”
Newkirk was a manager at the Nordstrom store at Oak Park Mall. Co-workers repeatedly used terms like “loved” and “adored” in online posts expressing their feelings about her.
“It is a tremendous loss for all of our employees and customers at the store,” said Nordstrom spokeswoman Tara Darrow.
Kelsey Brun, a manager when Newkirk first worked at the store as an intern, said her skill and sense of fashion were quickly recognized.
“She had such a drive for the business,” Brun said.
Newkirk had a personality that made people want to be around her as much as possible, she said.
“It was hard to not be in a good mood around her,” said another high school friend, Lisa Oxley. “She knew no stranger and was friendly to everyone.”
Brun said she and Newkirk shared a taste in fashion, particularly workout clothes, although Brun confessed a tinge of jealousy toward Newkirk.
“She always looked so great everywhere she went,” Brun said.
Newkirk’s funeral will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Souder Family Funeral Home, 1333 N.E. Barry Road. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
Donations to a scholarship fund in her memory can be made atwww.found.ksu.edu/ memorials/newkirk.