Community remembers Del Oro graduate

Alyse Conk's cause of death still unknown
By: Julie Eng, Gold Country News Service Correspondent
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Family and friends of 21-year-old Alyse Rachelle Conk, whose body was found on Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, in Loomis Basin Community Park, remember her happiness as infectious. They are also making plans for a public service, to be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at Warehouse Christian Ministries, located at 10020 Foothills Boulevard, in Roseville, according to her brother, Jared Conk. “She was funny … she always wanted to make me laugh. Even when things were pretty tough, she still had hope,” said Jared. Conk’s body was found by a 16-year-old boy in the Loomis Basin Community Park at 10:40 a.m. last Wednesday. No foul play is suspected in her death, according to Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. In a news release, Erwin said Conk had parked her car in a nearby parking lot the previous evening, walked to a location near a stream and had brought blankets, a pillow, food and some personal belongings, all suggesting she intended to spend the night at this location. The release also said evidence found at the scene of Conk’s death does not indicate any connection with the death of Charsha Smith, whose body was discovered July 3 near Del Oro High School and within one-half mile of Loomis Community Park. The cause and manner of Conk’s death remains under investigation and will not be disclosed until toxicology tests are completed, Erwin wrote. Toxicology reports on Smith have not been released. Friends say Conk had been out of contact with them for several months, and were unaware that she had been camping in the park. Terra Dawson had been a close friend of Alyse Conk’s since the two were 14. “When she was happy she was amazing,” said Dawson. “She loved to be goofy, and I loved that about her. She was just so fun to be around.” Conk attended Loomis schools, including Loomis Grammar and Del Oro High School and was a member of the Del Oro water polo team until she graduated in 2006. Dawson said the sport was very important to Conk, and that she was amazing in the water. Greg Kelderman, her coach, agreed, and remembers her as an easygoing girl. “She was an independent, kind soul,” he said. “I think that describes her best.” Kelderma and Dawson recall Conk being very excited about joining the Air Force after she graduated from high school. Dawson’s memories of Conk when she visited her in boot camp are happy ones. “She’d never been more beautiful,” Dawson said. “She was happy, covered in freckles, and she was so proud.” After leaving the Air Force, Conk lived in Rocklin and made many friends in the area who mourn her passing. Rachel Foster, who has known the Conk family for three years, will miss a trustworthy friend. “She was always a kind-hearted person,” Foster said. “I’d always go to her for advice. A lot of people will miss her, because she was always there for people when they needed her.” Dawson remembers Conk as loving math, Sudoku puzzles, and music. One of her favorite memories of Conk is of the two of them eating Chinese food and listening to the Beatles. She also said she and Conk enjoyed working together at Pizza Factory in Loomis as high school students. “When she was on her game, she was hilarious,” Dawson said. Kelderman said Conk was an easy person to talk to, especially for a high school student. He said that she was always herself and didn’t let herself get wrapped up in others’ negative business “She had a smile that lit up the room,” he said. In addition to water polo, Dawson said that Conk’s religious beliefs were very important to her. “Even when everything was bad, she always had her faith,” she said. “I don’t know what comes next, but I hope it’s better for her.” In addition to her brother, Jared, Alyse Conk is survived by her parents, Tim and Denise Conk, and her sister, Ashley Conk. Loomis News Editor Martha Garcia contributed to this report.