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With sincere compassion, we respectfully announce the transition of Ms. Crystal Gates. A resident, of Montgomery, AL; Ms. Gates transitioned Monday, October 23rd, 2023. She was 59.
Crystal Lynn (Cris) Gates, 59, of Montgomery, Alabama, passed away on Monday, October 23, 2023 from complications due to pancreatic cancer. Cris was born on Monday, November 4, 1963 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Duane White Gates and Harriet Faye (Baer). Eventually the family settled in Duane's home town of Saranac where Crissy, her older brother, Jeff, and younger sister, Lori, all grew up. While attending Saranac High School, Cris served as a class officer, played on the volleyball and golf teams, and was a member of the band as a percussionist and majorette.
After graduation in 1982, Cris continued her education, earned her Associate's Degree in Nursing from Grand Rapids Community College in 1986, and began her 25-year career as a Registered Nurse at Ionia County Memorial Hospital. In May of 1987 her daughter, Katherine, was born, and in 1989, Cris, Katie, Faye, and Duane moved from Saranac back to Grand Rapids. While in Grand Rapids, Cris worked at Blodgett Memorial Medical Center (now part of the Corewell Health System) and St. Mary's (now part of the Trinity Health System) in their neonatal intensive care units. At both hospitals she worked with wonderful colleagues, made lifelong friends, and cared for countless newborns and their families, including serving as a certified infant loss counselor. In 2001 the family relocated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama—after Duane retired—and Cris began work in the DCH Health System, beginning in the NICU and then transitioning to the North Harbor Pavilion pyschiatric unit. In addition to patient care, Cris also taught basic life support, non-violent crisis intervention, and infant loss training for health care workers.
A lifelong learner, after leaving the nursing profession she entered retail management with plans to go back to school to become a paralegal (and maybe even attend law school) until she found what she considered to be the "sweet spot" that allowed her to flex her nursing muscles and utilize her experience, talents, and passions with a more typical 9-to-5 schedule: Optical Technician. She began with Martin Family Eye Care in Tuscaloosa and ultimately found her professional family with Pike Road Family Eye Care in Pike Road, Alabama.
Outside of her work, Cris was a highly creative individual who loved music, dance, arts and crafts, coloring books, calligraphy, floral arranging, embroidery, beading, and sewing. When her daughter became an active performer in her school's musical theatre program, Cris became a regular volunteer costumer for their productions, building costumes for shows such as Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof, and Beauty & the Beast. Cris was also a gifted performer in her own right, having sung with numerous bands and choirs through the years. She sang anywhere she could and eventually learned to ring in her church's handbell choir. Cris was also an avid reader, and more often than not the book in her hands was about the history of the British monarchy. Any chance she had to travel, she went. More than anything, though, Cris wanted to feed people. She was masterful in the kitchen, be it cooking or baking, and she could not wait to share the latest recipe she had found or developed with those around her.
Coming from a long line of strong, stalwart women, Cris was not one to mince words; she was fiercely independent, often impatient, sometimes stubborn, and always protective and self-sacrificing as she cared for her daughter, parents, patients, and people she loved most. Her favorite person in the world was her granddaughter, Evangeline, and to prove it Cris moved to Montgomery to be closer to her immediately after she was born; Cris cherished every moment spent being a CiCi. Those she leaves behind will miss her colorful vocabulary, boisterous laugh, hunger for justice, strong opinions about fashion, appreciation for a good blanket, love of Bombas socks, and the way she made chicken and dumplings.
Cris was preceded in death by her parents, Faye and Duane Gates, and is survived by her daughter, Kate (Avery) Berry, and granddaughter, Evie; her brother, Jeff (Vicky) Gates; her sister, Lori (Jim) Crouch; and nieces and nephews, Sarah (Larry) Gates, Kasey Phillips, Jesse Gates, Jenna (Pat) Gillman, Hunter (Brooke) Gates, Megan Crouch, and Griffin Gates. Plans for a celebration of life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests those wishing to honor Cris' memory give of their time or treasure to any of the following organizations:
American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, Birmingham, Alabama
Aveanna Hospice of Montgomery
The Music Ministry of First United Methodist Church Tuscaloosa
The Respite Ministry of First United Methodist Church Montgomery
World Central Kitchen
Our family would like to express gratitude to the following for going above and beyond as they cared for Cris and all of us during this difficult time: Jackson Professional Funeral Services; Dr. Nino Aleksidze, Dr. Daniel Sufficool, and the team of Alabama Cancer Care Center Montgomery; all of the nurses, nursing assistants, and staff at Capitol Hill Healthcare and Rehab First; Aveanna Hospice of Montgomery; our faith community at First United Methodist Church; Dr. Hill, Dr. Howell, and the entire team of Pike Road Family Eye Care; and all of our colleagues, friends, and family who have lifted up prayers and offered food, hugs, and support from all corners of the country.
Jackson Professional Funeral Services is grateful to Ms. Gates' family for entrusting the final care and arrangements of their loved one to our caring and dedicated professionals. We solicit your continued, sincere support, and prayers for her family as they navigate through this experience.