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A creative, free spirit is recalled

Griffiths is seen belly dancing last summer.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Christa Griffiths was as good as she was beautiful.

So say the dancers, musicians, artists and others who recalled an exceptionally sweet, free-spirited, creative and beloved young woman when they talked Wednesday about the 27-year-old.

Griffiths died early Monday morning in a car wreck in the Bay Area.



“So many people love her and are devastated,” said Griffiths’ friend, Allison Knapp.

Griffiths was returning to Grass Valley after meeting some of her boyfriend’s family last weekend – and hoped to get to work on time at a shop where jewelry she designed was on display.




Christa Griffiths was born July 17, 1975, in South Lake Tahoe. She grew up in Lake Wildwood and graduated from Nevada Union High School in 1993. Griffiths attended Sierra College, where she studied drama.

“We’re extremely proud of her,” Sharon Griffiths, an art teacher in Nevada County schools, said of her daughter. “She gave so much to everyone around her and everyone she touched.””

Kyndra Griffiths described her sister as “the freest of spirits.”

“Her disposition was unique,” said Cai Sorlien, Griffiths’ African dance teacher. “She got along really well with everybody. She always sought to find accord with people and find ways to connect in harmony with people.”

“Every time I saw her, it brightened up my day,” said Lovie Bucknell, owner of Herb Shop Records in Nevada City, where she sells clothing and jewelry Griffiths designed. “You can see signs of her all over the community.”

“She was just a wonderful girl, a wonderful, free, light spirit,” said Jacquie Bucknell, Griffiths’ belly-dancing teacher.

Susan McKinney, Griffiths’ co-worker at Beads Galore, a Brunswick Basin store that sells decorative beads, said the evidence is on the walls of the store.

“You walk around Nevada City and you’ll see a few ladies wearing her pieces around their necks,” said Knapp. Griffiths made all the jewelry for Knapp’s wedding, right down to the flower girls’ pieces.

Griffiths performed in the African dance troupe Ivory Ridge Dancers and Drummers and the Middle Eastern dance troupe Diva Serpentina Dance Ensemble. She performed two weeks ago as part of the opening act of the East Pakistani group Shabaz.

Griffiths had a good weekend in San Francisco with her boyfriend, meeting his family, Knapp said.

Emmet Farrell, who remains in fair condition at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek after the wreck, was devastated over Griffiths’ death, her friends said. California Highway Patrol officers arrested him for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

But “No one feels anger toward him or blames him,” Knapp said about Farrell, who turns 20 on Friday.

About 25 of Griffiths’ friends gathered Tuesday night for a belly-dancing shrine ceremony and to recite a poem.

The band Mermen plan to dedicate some of the songs they’ll play at Cooper’s this weekend to one of their most loyal and memorable fans.

“She was a total sweetheart,” said Jennifer Burnes, the band’s bass player, who grew up in Nevada City.

Friends plan to gather at North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center at noon Sunday to remember Griffiths.

“She had big plans,” Nancy Cattaneo of North San Juan said of her high school friend.

“I want to believe the good souls are taken first because they’re needed elsewhere, but I’m angry that she’s gone,” said Knapp.

Sorlien saw Griffiths last week when he was performing at a wedding in Penn Valley. “She came backstage to tell me she was in love, and she was radiant. She wanted me to know how happy she was.”


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