DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — LITHONIA, Ga. -- Just days ahead of her funeral, friends and family held a vigil for a high school dance team member who died after collapsing during practice in DeKalb County.
Loved ones gathered on Saturday in a Lithonia Zaxby's to remember the life of 17-year-old Elyse Purefoy who worked there before her sudden and tragic death.
"I remember her always being, you know, happy and smiling," one manager said. "Never complained about anything. Was just so, like, happy to be alive and she was so high spirited and she was a very positive person."
Her father also attended and spoke briefly to 11Alive about his daughter and the impact she made in her 17 years.
"She's just a shining star that's gone too soon," he said.
Surrounded by mourners and supporters, he teared up at times - and so did others in the room. He remembered his daughter as having a strong spirit and being determined while also friendly.
"As you can tell by the outpouring that she really touched people's lives with her spirit and joy and she loved to have fun but she was responsible," he said.
The Arabia Mountain High School student died suddenly during practice a week earlier. And even now, there are still many questions surrounding her death.
Her family said previously that they believed she died because of dehydration. But the medical examiner's office has yet to release an autopsy report.
And so, it's a question that may remain as the community remembering her life on Saturday prepares to say a tearful goodbye days later.
A celebration of life service will be held Monday at 12 p.m. at Saint Philip AME Church located at 240 Candler Road SE - an Atlanta address.
A day earlier a visitation will be held a day earlier on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at South DeKalb Chapel. An obituary from Levett Funeral Home says she will be interred at Melwood Cemetery at 5170 E Ponce de Leon Ave. in Stone Mountain.