Christopher – or Zeke, as we called him at Dartmouth – and I became dear friends in college despite never having taken a single class together. We have always shared a love of languages and as undergraduates, we had a common (and very lucrative!) side job as teaching assistants for introductory French and German courses. His contagious enthusiasm and love for the arts, food, clever puns, and life in general made Zeke a magnetic personality and someone whose presence has always given me new energy.
He was one of the first college I introduced to my (now) husband, Basti, and they too became close quickly. Indeed, that was something else that Zeke modeled well for the rest of us: he treated his friends’ friends and loved ones as if they were his own family.
Like many others who knew and loved him, Basti and I had the pleasure of attending some of Zeke’s performances over the years. However, the one that was most meaningful to us was our own wedding. When we decided to celebrate our marriage with friends from all over the world, he was the best imaginable choice of an officiant. On August 1st, 2015, Zeke presided over a beautiful, funny, and touching bilingual German-English ceremony that our friends still talk about today. At the time, many folks were surprised that his “real job” had nothing to do with public speaking or international wedding celebrations!
last fall when we were in London for a weekend, Basti and I had a wonderful afternoon with Zeke. His commitment to public transportation combined with the calamitous British Rail system meant that he arrived an hour late, but all was forgiven the moment he arrived at the restaurant and gave a round of hugs. Over lunch we told him that we were expecting a baby in March: he cried when he heard the news, promised to come visit us as soon as he could, and then secretly paid for our meal. Everything about that day captures an aspect of our love for Zeke: happily forgiven tardiness, long hugs, emotional openness, willingness to travel, and generosity towards friends.
To say we will miss Zeke dearly would be the understatement of the century. He was an exceptional friend and human. We take some comfort in knowing how much joy he brought to others and how famously his legacy will live on among those who loved him.