Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Stevens remembered as a man who cared deeply for Libya

First Published Sep 12 2012 07:56 pm • Last Updated Sep 13 2012 12:14 am

Sacramento, Calif. • After a recent break from work - which included a conference in Germany, a wedding in Sweden and a visit to Vienna — U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens emailed his family in Northern California that he’d arrived back in Libya.

"He just got back to Libya a few days ago," said his brother, Tom Stevens, 46, an attorney who lives in the Bay Area town of Piedmont. "He sent an email saying he had a lot of work waiting for him, so he’d have to email more later."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

And then came the tragic news. On the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 52-year-old Stevens and three other embassy staff members were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the city that as envoy Stevens helped guide through the violent Libyan uprising this spring.

His stepfather, Robert Commanday, told CNN that Stevens loved the Libyan people and was passionate about helping the country recover from its revolution.

"He was a brilliant public servant who died in the city he helped save," said his longtime friend, Paul Feist, a California Community Colleges vice chancellor who met Stevens when they were students at Piedmont High School.

A day after Stevens died, his family and friends remembered him not just as a dedicated career foreign service officer whose death merited an outpouring of tributes from the White House, the State Department and his alma maters, the University of California, Berkeley and Hastings School of Law - but also as a smart, amiable, unflappable man with a gift for caring about the world around him.

He loved playing tennis, and he played it around the globe, using the tennis court as a way to get to know other diplomats, his brother said. He loved running, and he ran everywhere.

"He even ran on the dangerous streets of Tripoli, with his security detail running with him," said Tom Stevens.

Locally, some remembered Chris Stevens as the boy who long ago attended Pioneer Elementary and Emerson Junior High in the city of Davis, where he joined the ski club and played saxophone in the stage band.

"He was a cute blond guy who was very active in school," said Cathy Speck, who was a year ahead of Stevens at Emerson. "He was definitely a friendly guy, not somebody who stayed on the sidelines."


story continues below
story continues below

And some remembered him and his siblings, Tom and Anne, now 49 and a doctor in Seattle, as polite kids who played for hours outside with the other children in their South Davis neighborhood of sprawling ranch houses and wide lawns.

"The whole family was very nice," said Rosie Cushing, who lived three doors down from the Stevens family in the late 1960s.

Chris Stevens was born in Grass Valley in 1960 and spent his early years in Marin County. By the end of the decade, the family had moved to Davis, where they lived until his parents divorced in the early 1970s.

He is the son of retired California senior assistant attorney general Jan Stevens and his wife, Carole, who live in Loomis, as well as cellist Mary Commanday and her husband, Robert, who live in Piedmont.

He is also survived by a half-sister, Hilary Stevens, 32, a doctor who lives in Stockton.

"Chris was always a lot of fun," said family friend Mary Sparks, who lives in Loomis. "He was a very observant man with a great sense of humor. He had a quiet side, and he really loved his work. It’s such a loss."

When he came home to Northern California from his postings around the Middle East - Saudi Arabia and Syria, Jerusalem and Tripoli - Stevens made a point of visiting everyone, from the Bay Area to Stockton to the foothills.

"He’d always come to Stockton to see us," said Feist. "We’d try to pump him for information about the excitement of his life and career.

"He was such an unpretentious guy. He’d want to know about your son and how he was doing in school. He was a remarkable man."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.