By Anna Grace Moore
Living a Life of Rarities
Rare is it that someone engineers her own actions so profoundly that the legacy she leaves behind carries on in the hearts of others–generations to come. Even rarer is the person who lives for the Lord–her own walk of faith a model for bringing what little she has to lay at the feet of Jesus.
Kristi Metz embodied this rarity.
Born to Linda and Steve Borden on October 4, 1989, Kristi delivered into this world a vibrant personality as fiery as her auburn locks. As she learned to take her first steps, and eventually, her first steps as a Christian, Kristi decided from a young age that her purpose in life was to use what time she was given on Earth to lead others to Christ.
Kristi became involved with show choir at Spain Park High School and later on, sang in her church choir at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, when she attended the University of Alabama–roll tide.
It was in college that Kristi met the love of her life, John Metz. The two married not long after they graduated and lived in a loving marriage together until Kristi’s passing. Kristi was known for her fierce love for her family.
“We only became closer the older we got and had this uncanny telepathy to say things at the exact same time or to separately call our mom at the exact same time,” Kristi’s sister Melissa Gullatte says. “She was quite the firecracker, but she was also the sweetest daughter, most loyal sister and the most loving mother. I will spend every second of my life honoring her and making sure she is never, ever forgotten.”
Upon graduating, Kristi followed her calling to serve people, working in the marketing department at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. One of her favorite aspects of her career was that she marketed these causes as a means to both benefit those who have this disease and also, to ignite a call to action in those with the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Kristi worked with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for several years before coming to work with Samford University, where her legacy lives on as forever one of the greatest “SAMbassadors,” the school has ever had.
Though Kristi was called home to her heavenly home on December 27, 2021, her family and friends say the legacy she has left behind will live on for years to come because of the lessons and heart she imparted on so many who were privileged to know her.
These elements can best be described through 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says, “Three things will last forever–faith, hope and love–and the greatest of these is love.”
Walk by Faith, Not by Sight
Kristi developed a loving relationship with Jesus early on in life, and ever since, she anchored her faith as the foundation for how she lived her life.
“She became a strong, Christian young lady that loved the Lord with all her heart,” Kristi’s father Steve Borden says. “She was someone that stood her ground, lived her faith and was genuine in her beliefs.”
Armed with her red hair and infectious smile, Kristi amazed other people by how strongly she believed the Lord had a plan for her life and others’ lives, too, Kristi’s mother Linda says.
“Kristi was a gem–one of those rare people that are absolutely gorgeous on the outside but even more stunning on the inside,” Kristi’s friend McKenzie Almond says. “He used her in my life to be such a beautiful example of a true, steadfast friend, even in the hard and messy.”
Kristi and McKenzie became the best of friends during what McKenzie says was one of her hardest seasons in life. As a mom of a child living with autism, McKenzie says life can be difficult.
“People would often stare and watch us as I navigated learning how to parent a child with special needs,” McKenzie says. “Not Kristi. She would confidently stand by me and not bat an eye, often juggling another one of my babies and hers as well.”
McKenzie says Kristi taught her to have faith that she would overcome this parenting hurdle and that her child would be accepted and loved.
“She would help me laugh about it and would never shy away from inviting us out again,” McKenzie says. “She was the encouraging friend I needed at that stage of life, and the Lord used her kindness to help me be the mom I am today.”
Kristi’s friends all describe her as this pillar of faith–someone that “walked her talk.” She was not just a friend to those in need, but she was also a reminder that the Lord loves everyone and has a purpose within each person, waiting to be discovered.
On October 17, 2022, Samford University dedicated a bench in Kristi’s memory–such that inspires hope within so many.
Each spring semester, Samford University’s Advancement Team holds its annual “Big Give,” which is a campaign push to raise funds for the school’s programs and global outreach initiatives. This campus-wide endeavor involves every student, alumni, faculty and staff member, who all nominate a person to act as a “SAMbassador,” representing their giving groups.
Kristi was unsurprisingly designated as Samford University’s marketing department’s “SAMbassador” for the last few years before her passing. Like most of her life, she excelled in her role, acting as a vessel for Christ to work through.
In his bench dedication speech to Kristi, Adam Roebuck, Assistant Director, Individual and Organizational Success, says that Kristi was an excellent saleswoman, drawing financial support from across the world for the Big Give every year.
“Some of you may not be aware that Kristi could be a bit of a shrewd negotiator,” Adam says. “She was very hard to say no to, that’s for sure. She was quite the perfect SAMbassador.”
Melissa, too, describes Kristi as very generous, with a heart as big as the world.
“She interacted with so many people,” Melissa says. “It’s been cool to see people come out after she passed away and say, ‘This is how she touched my heart.’”
It’s this impact that led Samford University to erect a bench in Kristi’s honor.
“Samford’s Big Give campaign of 2022 lasted only 48 hours, and in that time, we raised enough funds to secure the order of this beautiful bench,” Adam says. “Nearly 100 individuals and families made the decision to give to Samford in Kristi’s honor.”
The bench rests in the heart of Samford’s campus in Ben Brown Plaza. To those that donated, it represents hope that dreams, however far-fetched, will always be attainable through Christ.
In addition to Kristi’s bench, Melissa has put together the Kristi Metz Scholarship in partnership with Samford University’s marketing department. The Kristi Metz Scholarship, which will be an endowed scholarship, will be awarded each year to one student of a major of Samford’s choosing.
In 2020, Kristi developed her own interior design business, Iron City Design Company, so the first student to receive the Kristi Metz Scholarship will be an interior design major.
Melissa came across several of Kristi’s paintings the summer after Kristi passed away. She had the idea to overlap some of her own artwork with Kristi’s, creating prints to sell to fund the Kristi Metz Scholarship.
Those interested in viewing or purchasing the prints can visit gracefullymadeart.com. Proceeds from the prints directly benefit the scholarship recipients.
Melissa says Kristi acted as a beacon of hope for so many, so the best way to honor her memory would be to do just that–fund hope for students in need.
The Greatest of These is Love
No doubt that Kristi’s most memorable quality is the love she exuberated each and every day. This cherishing is evident in the bright eyes of two of God’s greatest blessings to her.
“Kristi loved her two kids, Jack and Savannah [more than] anything on Earth,” Kristi’s brother Kevin Borden says. “No matter how busy she was, she always had time for [them].”
Jack, 5, was only 3 when his mother was called home. Melissa says Jack’s few memories of his mom are warm and loving, and that is a beautiful to remember someone gone too soon.
“Kristi truly delighted in being a wife and mom,” Kristi’s friend Jessica Whitehead says. “Her face lit up when she talked about Jack and Savannah.”
Kristi’s sister-in-law, Madi Borden, shares the same sentiment. Loving like Kristi is much like loving like Jesus, and this way of living, she says, she will strive to help model for Jack and Savannah, too.
“I think the easiest way to honor her legacy is to love others well,” McKenzie says. “Open our eyes and see who needs us and meet those friends where they need to be met.”
According to her family and friends, Kristi always went the extra mile to show others that they are worthy and deserving of love–just as Christ loves all of His children.
Whether it was her singing in church choir, raising money and awareness for local non-profits, loving her friends and family fiercely or simply, just being “Kristi,” it is evident that Kristi inspired so many to hold steadfast in their faith, inspire hope in others and above all, love one another unconditionally.
These three qualities Kristi lived out wonderfully, and it is these three that her family and friends also choose to abide by, partly in thanks to the legacy Kristi has left behind.
As Christians, this desire to model Christ is best summed up by 1 Corinthians 13:13, and Kristi’s life served as a beautiful reflection of this verse.
To Jack, Savannah and the rest of Kristi’s loved ones, remember that death is not a goodbye; it is simply a “see you on the flip side.” To those honoring her memory, understand that the way she lived her life is the best way to live–spreading joy to all.
Finally, to Kristi, all that need be said is, thank you, and well done, good and faithful servant.
The Kristi Metz Scholarship
Those interested in applying for the Kristi Metz Scholarship can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.