Crystal Harris is mourning her late husband Hugh Hefner following the Playboy founder’s death at the age of 91 on Wednesday, September 27.
“I haven’t been able to bring myself to write most people back to thank them for their condolences. I am heartbroken,” Harris told Us Weekly on Monday, October 2. “I am still in disbelief. We laid him to rest Saturday. He is in the place he was always certain he wanted to spend eternity.”
“He was an American hero. A pioneer. A kind and humble soul who opened up his life and home to the world. I felt how much he loved me. I loved him so much. I am so grateful,” she continued. “He gave me life. He gave me direction. He taught me kindness. I will feel eternally grateful to have been by his side, holding his hand, and telling him how much I love him. He changed my life, he saved my life. He made me feel loved every single day. He was a beacon to the world, a force unlike anything else.”
Harris added: “There never has and never will be another Hugh M. Hefner. I join the world in mourning. I thank you for all of your condolences, to the people leaving sentiments at the front gate, we see you and grieve with you.”
The couple, who started dating in 2009, tied the knot at the Playboy mansionon New Year’s Eve in 2012 after calling off their first wedding in June 2011. “Crystal and I married on New Year’s Eve in the Mansion with [younger brother] Keith as my Best Man,” Hefner tweeted on January 1, 2013. “Love that girl!” For the ceremony, Harris wore a pale pink Romona Keveza gown.
Shortly after they wed, Hefner gushed over his wife in a 2013 interview with Esquire. “All our friends think it’s made in heaven,” he said at the time of his third marriage. (The media mogul was wed twice before, first to Mildred Williams from 1949 to 1959, and then to Kimberley Conrad from 1989 to 2010.) “It’s only people who don’t know us, who simply see us as stereotypes in terms of age and beauty.”
“I just feel very, very fortunate to have found her at this stage in my life. I saved the best till last,” he continued. “I want the rest of my life to be very much like it is now. I want it to be like this.”
In addition to Harris, Hefner is survived by his children Cooper, 26, Marston, 27, David, 62, and Christie, 64.
Hours after Hugh’s passing, Cooper honored his late dad’s legacy. “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer,” he wrote. “And a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements.”