Kristoff St John neil yr gallery

John Paschal/JPI

On April 23, 2019, everybody who was anybody in Genoa City was celebrating the opening of Society. Everybody, that is, except for Neil Winters.

The Young and the Restless‘ Devon was riding high. Not only was opening night at Society an unqualified success, but sister Lily had gotten out of prison just in time to join the celebration. There was just one thing missing — one person, rather: their father, Neil.

Sasha Calle, Bryton James, Melissa Ordway "The Young and the Restless" Set CBS television City Los Angeles 03/19/19 © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 11668 U.S. Airdate 04/09/19

Viewers knew painfully well that he would not be making it to the party. His beloved portrayer, Kristoff St. John, had passed away at the age of 52 on February 3, 2019. Now, the CBS soap would have to try to address a loss that would be felt as keenly on screen as off.

As the evening continued, Devon gave up phoning Neil and swung by the penthouse to hurry him along. If he didn’t get there soon, he was going to miss everything. Only when Devon got home did he find Neil’s suit still in its garment bag… and Neil upstairs… gone.

In a daze, Devon returned to Society and began to break the news to his family. It was an impossible task. How could he tell Lily — or anyone to whom Neil had been important — that this warm, wonderful presence in the world… simply no longer existed? It was akin to saying, “No, there’s just no more oxygen.”

In the days that followed, Shemar Moore reprised his role of Neil’s brother Malcolm to pay his respects, and he and Victoria Rowell (Neil’s late wife, Drucilla) joined in a televised celebration of St. John’s life. And it was a lovely tribute to the Emmy winner and the character that he’d played since 1991.

Shemar Moore, Christel Khalil, Bryton James "The Young and the Restless" Set CBS television City Los Angeles 03/21/19 © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661

More: The Winters family tree [PHOTOS]

But it wasn’t enough — and couldn’t be, really. A shock like St. John’s loss takes time from which to recover. And the void that his absence left on the canvas… it’s still felt, over and over again, often unexpectedly. A scene will be going on, and we’ll half-expect Neil to come in, smiling that smile of his that made the sun seem dimly lit. We’ll be looking forward to Neil counseling Devon on his tumultuous love life — or questioning Lily on hers.

And then it’ll hit us, all over again: That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen ever again.

Rather than dwell on what we’ve lost, however, perhaps we should be grateful for what we had. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a photo gallery full of reminders of why St. John and Neil were (and are) so adored.