PCHS homecoming queen 'loved by everyone at school'
Kelsey Pruitt will always remember the bright smile that always seemed to be on the face of her friend, Shelby Grissom.
That smile is the one that many people around Phil Campbell are remembering this week.
Grissom, a 17 year-old senior at Phil Campbell High School, died Sunday afternoon, after several months of battling an undiagnosed illness.
"She had a smile on her face every time I saw her," said Pruitt, who had been friends with Grissom since the first grade.
Despite suffering from an illness that doctors haven't quite been able to diagnose, Grissom tried her best to attend school as long as she was able.
She was crowned Phil Campbell's Homecoming queen last month.
"She loved that," said Grace Berlin, a fellow classmate and longtime friend.
Grissom became ill last December with what doctors' first thought was mononucleosis, said Phil Campbell principal William Smith.
"She was the most loved child in the school and there was nothing (negative) about her," Smith said. "She never said an unkind word and she was nice to everybody.
"She was loved by everyone at school. She was really quiet and a kind young lady."
Smith said counselors were called to the school late last week after Grissom's condition worsened and she was transported to a Birmingham hospital.
"This has been hard on the students and all of us," he said.
A web page, www.caringbridge.com/visit/shelbygrissom, was established to keep friends and family up to speed on Grissom's condition throughout her illness.
This week, that page has turned into a memorial with hundreds of messages as an outpouring of love and support for her parents, Keith and Deb Grissom, and her sister, Addie.
Like her older sister, Grissom was a cheerleader at Phil Campbell and active in the school. She was Student Council President and voted Class Favorite by her peers.
But what set her apart, friends said, was her loving nature and spirit.
"She was so thoughtful and strong," Berlin said. "She was positive and fought this to the end."
It was an end that came much too soon for this family and community, but it was not an ending without a lasting impact.
"She always said that she was ready for God to make her better," Pruitt said.
"She would just say, 'I have had a good 17 years."