Criste Jo (Vaughn) Scarnati passed away surrounded by her family on December 5, 2022 in Yuma, Arizona.
Criste was born on January 13, 1960 in Seymour, Indiana, the middle of three daughters born to LaDonna (Nieman) and Charley Vaughn. She attended Immanuel-Lutheran School and was a member of the Seymour High School Class of 1978. During her prep days, Criste was involved in many activities and made numerous friends, many of whom she stayed in touch with over the years. She also attended Ball State University.
In 1980 Criste set out for a career in the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Industry. Working her way up through the ranks, she took out her trainer’s license in 1986. She went on to be a successful trainer, saddling numerous winners. The accomplishment she was most proud of during her years in the horse racing industry was sending out a winner with the very first horse she ever saddled as a trainer on June 14, 1986 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. Criste also saddled the winners of races at The Meadowlands (New Jersey), Birmingham Turf Club (Alabama), Turfway Park (Kentucky) and Prairie Meadows in Iowa.
Criste married Peter Scarnati in Seymour on February 17, 1990. The couple raised two children, a son, Torey of Cedar Falls, Iowa and a daughter, Sierra (Joe) Panisello of Belleview, Florida. Shortly after they were married the couple purchased a small farm in rural Monroe, Iowa where Criste trained, bred, and boarded horses. She also taught riding lessons for a number of years on the farm.
In 2005, the couple became the publishers of the Prairie City News in Iowa. During their highly successful nine-year run producing the weekly newspaper, on two occasions Criste was honored by being named the winner of one of the Iowa Newspaper Association’s most prestigious awards. In 2012 and 2013 Criste was voted by her peers the recipient of the Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting Award, an accomplishment she glowingly spoke of on many occasions.
In 2019, the couple retired, sold the farm and most of their belongings, purchased an RV and set out on what Criste fondly called “the adventure of a lifetime.” While on the road, the couple joyfully welcomed to the world their only grandchild, a boy named Micah Vaughn Panisello on August 16, 2022.
Criste, a dedicated and loving wife and mother, lived her life to the fullest and on her own terms. For those who loved and knew her, she will be forever remembered for possessing these attributes.
Criste was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents. Those left behind to cherish her memory are her husband, children, grandson, and two sisters – Cinde (Mike) Pickard of Citrus Springs, Florida and Connie (Pat) Beck of Seymour. She also survived by several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.