Her voice trembling and hoarse from crying, Patricia Campbell stood on her Medford porch Tuesday afternoon and tried in a few emotional phrases to make the world understand what was lost when the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon killed her 29-year-old daughter, Krystle Marie Campbell.
“You couldn’t ask for a better daughter,” she said, each sentence a visible struggle. “I can’t believe this has happened. She was such a hard worker at everything she did.”
Then words failed and she paused, looking up from her notes. “This doesn’t make any sense,” she said.
Krystle Campbell, who grew up in Medford and moved about a year ago to Arlington, was on Boylston Street near the Marathon finish line with her friend Karen on Monday, said Krystle’s grandmother, Lillian Campbell of Somerville.
After the bombs detonated, Krystle and Karen were side by side on the ground when medical personnel arrived, and somewhere en route from the sidewalk to Massachusetts General Hospital, someone mixed up their names.
When Krystle’s father, William Campbell Jr., went to Mass. General after the explosions, officials initially told him she was seriously injured and might lose a leg. But when they let him in, he saw it was Karen — not Krystle — in the room, Lillian Campbell said, “and my son was devastated.”
For years Krystle Campbell had been a general manager and catering manager for the Jasper White Summer Shack restaurants, working mostly at the Hingham and Cambridge locations. She put in long hours, “70, 80 hours a week,” her grandmother said, and often took the lead coordinating parties and graduations the restaurants catered.
She still made time for family and friends, though, and “was one of those people who always have to be doing something for somebody,” her grandmother said.
Krystle, she added, “was special. She’s a hard worker and she was always right there if you needed her. All you had to do was call Krystle, and she was there.”
That was the case when Lillian Campbell needed assistance after an operation a few years ago. She was living alone, after her husband died in 2005.
“She took care of me for almost two years after I had an operation,” Lillian Campbell said. “She moved right into my house with me for two years.”
“That girl is Class A,” she added. “She was the best. Not because she’s my granddaughter. She was like that with all of her friends, and she had a lot of them.”
Born in Somerville, Krystle Campbell grew up in Medford, where her parents had purchased a house, her grandmother said.
“She was so cute. She was just full of life,” Lillian Campbell said. “She loved being around people. She was a people lover, even as a little girl. She always had a lot of friends around her. She loved music, and she loved life, Krystle did. She was always bouncing and always happy.”
Her father was a plumber, but illness has curtailed his work in recent years, Lillian Campbell said. Krystle’s mother had worked in food services for many years at Harvard Business School, according to a spokesman there.
While at Medford High School, Krystle began working as a waitress, her grandmother said.
“The event was sad enough,” Roy Belson, the Medford school superintendent, said of the explosions at the Boston Marathon. “To find out one of those who died was from Medford, it makes it even more personal.”
After Krystle Campbell graduated from high school in 2001, she went to college for a couple of years. On her Facebook profile, she said she had attended the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Her grandmother said Krystle left college and began working at the Summer Shack. In an online LinkedIn profile, Krystle Campbell listed her Jasper White’s Summer Shack job titles as general manager at the Hingham location and catering manager.
“Krystle touched my life, and the lives of all our employees with her constant smile and joyful personality,” White said in a statement Tuesday. “She was beloved by all of us, and we will miss her deeply. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy and send our prayers out to her family.”
Lillian Campbell said Krystle moved to Arlington about a year ago, and recently switched jobs to work at Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington.
On May 3, Krystle would have turned 30, her grandmother said.
“We were getting ready to celebrate,” she said.
Lillian Campbell said her granddaughter’s absence will be particularly pronounced during family gatherings to celebrate birthdays and holidays.
Every holiday, she said, “we’re all together, and Krystle was right there helping everybody, helping get the food ready.”
In addition to her mother, father, and grandmother, Krystle Campbell leaves her brother, William Campbell III of Medford.
Medford Mayor Michael J. McGlynn said the city and the Medford Clergy Association will host a prayer vigil at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Grace Episcopal Church for those killed and injured in the Marathon explosions.
Dozens of reporters and camera operators had gathered in front of the Campbell family’s house on Park Street Tuesday when Patricia Campbell stepped out onto the porch. To her left, her son, William, draped an arm over her shoulders to comfort her. To her right, her brother John Reilly stood vigil. She tried to read from a piece of paper.
“She had a heart of gold,” Patricia said. “She was always smiling and friendly.”
In an interview by phone earlier Tuesday, Krystle’s grandmother spoke with similar emotion.
“I said to my son when I saw him this morning, ‘You know, it’s not right. My granddaughter shouldn’t die before me,’ ” Lillian said. “No mother should bury their children, I don’t care who they are. No grandmother or anybody.”