Volume 12, Issue 8 ~ February 19-25, 2004

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Kristin Julian Sohr
May 16, 1967 - February 17, 2004
by Alex Knoll

Goodnight sweet princess and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
–adapted from William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Life is beautiful like a butterfly, but just as fragile and fleeting. But from the most fragile things come the greatest strengths, as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in China is said to stir a hurricane in America.

What powers, then, can be set free in the world from the wings of Kristin Sohr, who flew through life so swiftly, and with such ardor that it’s tempting to think she knew her time was short?

From a contagious delight of her smile to the earth-moving force of her energy, we felt the powers of this natural, dark-haired beauty as she rippled through our lives, adding us to her ever-widening circle.

A native of Chesapeake Country, Kristin kept close to the friends of her youth. At University of Maryland, Baltimore County, she widened her community. Then, 11 years ago, she alighted a while at fledgling New Bay Times.

The three founders of this free weekly had plenty of editorial drive and great hopes, but not a single head for business. Kristin, who had just begun work on her MBA at University of Maryland, brought business sense and savvy to our small advertising department, giving this newspaper the kiss of life.

For the better part of two years — while shuttling back and forth to College Park — Kristin built the paper’s advertising strength and its reputation within the business community. To our shoebox of an office where six or eight people and a big dog struggled to make a new weekly paper, she added vitalizing energy, terrifying realism and a second big dog, her golden retriever Oscar.

We groaned when she told us we’d have to survive five years before advertisers would trust us. We argued when she insisted good journalism wouldn’t buy us longevity. But she brought us into line, and we endured.

Then Kristin earned her MBA and needed to spread her wings, to see where her talents would take her. That summer she left New Bay Times to work in Baltimore for Harte Hanks, a national marketing company. With her skills and charm, Kristin quickly worked her way up, until she was recruited by Saatchi & Saatchi, a giant advertising agency based in Los Angeles. With only her skills, her power and her dog Oscar, she moved to California and prospered, just as she’d said she would.

“Kristin had this huge circle of friends here,” a longtime friend Scott Ramsey recently said. “Then she moved to California, and it’s like she built another big circle with the same sort of people.” During those years in California, her love of life, her zest, her friendship touched more people.

In California, sun- and water-loving Kristin lived in a cottage just a few blocks from the ocean in Hermosa Beach. On a visit back to Chesapeake Country last year, she laughed that she’d made more money than she knew what to do with. But she’d also tasted grief. Her stepfather, Bob Koch, of Galesville, died in a small plane crash last January. Then cancer took her Oscar.

Last fall Kristin moved to Park City, Utah, where she bought a home, meeting and falling in love with the man who would become her fiancé.

Shortly after, a long-nagging back pain sent Kristin to the doctor. The pain was diagnosed as a cancer. It would prove to be a cancer that spread as fast as Kristin lived.

In mid-December she flew home and was admitted to Washington Hospital Center in D.C. Despite aggressive surgery, chemotherapy, the best medical care and the love of countless friends and family, Kristin died Tuesday, February 17.

Even as she lay dying, her joy still bubbled forth to greet others. “If one of her doctors she hadn’t seen for a few days walked in, she’d just beam up and smile,” said her fiancé Jeff Smith.

At her bedside, Smith, held her hand and said, “It took me 35 years to find the perfect woman.”

Kristin leaves behind her mother, Sally Julian Koch; her father, Eric Sohr; two sisters, Sherry Whitaker and Diane Nafziger; two brothers, Brian and Keith Sohr; and her grandmother, Lois Mitchell Levinson — as well as far too many friends for this paper’s pages.

Additionally, she leaves a charge for us all: To fly as splendidly as she on our own fragile wings, measuring our flight not by its length but by the ripples we set in motion.

In her final days, a respirator tube kept Kristin from talking, so she wrote. One of her last notes read: “I am ready to take and embrace the path that is destined to me to see the divine creation in us all.”

Kristin’s memorial service is Saturday, February 21, at Christ Church in Owensville. Call 410/867-0346 for the time.Memorial contributions may be made to National Ability Center, P.O. Box 682799, Park City, Utah 84068 • www.nac1985.org.Dedicated to lifetime outdoor sport, the center’s motto is “If I can do this, I can do anything.

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Last updated February 18, 2004 @ 11:59pm.