Ted Stephens III

Khrista’s Kloset

Ted Stephens III
Khrista’s Kloset

Khrista Ibarolle would have loved—actually been giddy, her father says—to have seen the students at the Boys and Girls Club of Yankton peek into an art closet named in her memory, pull out supplies and create something beautiful.

“This is what she would have wanted,” said Khrista’s father, Wayne Ibarolle. “She would have been really pleased. She would want to come back and teach and share her passion and energy with the kids who need it the most.”

In 2014, Khrista was shot and killed in California during a carjacking. She was 31. “It was tragic,” says her mother, Lori. “She was such a peace-loving girl, and to meet such a violent end was hard to accept. We love talking about the life she lived—that she lived fully.”

She was such a peace-loving girl, and to meet such a violent end was hard to accept. We love talking about the life she lived—that she lived fully.
— Lori Ibarolle

The memories of their daughter—a creative, talented, kind individual who went out of her way to help others—live on at the Boys and Girls Club through an endowment fund established at the South Dakota Community Foundation. The funds provide art supplies for Khrista’s Kloset, cabinets that are available to students when they have earned the privilege with leadership or good behavior. One cabinet is in the elementary room and the other is in the middle and high school room.

After Khrista’s passing, partnering with the Club through the Community Foundation seemed a natural fit, Wayne says, as he had been serving on the board of directors at the Boys and Girls Club when she died. He can remember the first time he heard his daughter’s name spoken in the Club. “It took my breath away,” he recalls. “To them, it’s not Khrista’s story, but to us, it is.”

Khrista graduated from Yankton High School in 2002 and was gifted in a variety of sports and art—pole vaulting, piano, art and music. When she was younger and the family traveled, they knew she would eventually make her way to the hotel’s ballroom or lobby. “If we couldn’t find her, we’d hear music coming from the piano,” Lori says.

Her homemade Christmas gifts were always coveted. One year she made her brother a set of coasters. “They were lids from salsa jars and she had grouted them and created a mosaic pattern,” Lori recalls.

At the time of her death, Khrista was co-owner and of the Fine Jewelry Consignment Department  in Folsom, California. She was a master appraiser and certified gemologist. In her spare time, she designed jewelry using gemstones and precious metals. Several of her original creations were sold at the Yankton Area Arts 2014 annual fundraiser, The Crimson Door.

She had an eye for beauty, both her parents say. “She was an extremely talented girl and was just hitting her stride,” Lori says. “That’s the biggest heartbreak—the life she wasn’t able to finish. She was well on her way.”

She had a knack for creating something out of nothing, a parallel that Wayne draws between his daughter and the students at the club who are supported through Khrista’s Kloset. “She would have related to these kids,” he says. “She wasn’t judgmental. She didn’t judge you by the way you looked or acted. It didn’t matter how much money you had. She would have taught them to make something out of nothing. She would have wanted this to help people get out of the frame that’s already been drawn for them.”

Wayne and Lori recall a family trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Khrista walked the beach, collecting the seashells with holes. She made necklaces out of the shells and was stopped on the beach by people wanting to purchase one. “She saw the beauty in things; she had a wonderful perspective,” Wayne says.

Lori and Wayne hope to add Khrista’s Kloset to more Boys and Girls Clubs, and to increase the endowment so one day they can pay for art instructors to lead classes for the students. “I’d like to be able to have instructors that teach things the students wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to learn, like sewing, ceramics and jewelry-making,” Lori says.

Mostly, they hope the legacy of kindness Khrista left lives on. “Khrista would serve anyone, and now allowing her legacy to serve anyone, it’s a beautiful thing,” Wayne adds. “Hearing the response of the students’ experiences with this unbridled creative art experience, it warms me every time. She made all of us a little better and challenged the way we view life.”

The picture on front of each of the Khrista’s Kloset cabinets is of Khrista on a swing overlooking Lake Tahoe—happy, free and grateful. “That was Khrista,” Lori says. “That was her.”