…I’ll wait for you… Should I fall behind, wait for me.Bruce Springsteen
On May 17, 2021, Chris Bord woke up at his usual early morning hour, made himself a couple espressos and then collapsed on the floor. His wife and daughter performed CPR while awaiting emergency help. Subsequent attempts by EMTs to revive him were futile and by the time the ambulance reached the hospital, he was gone.
Chris was 51.
Most who heard the news were in a state of shock and disbelief. How could someone so steadfast and determined throughout his life suddenly stop living?
A month later it still doesn’t seem real, and yet time keeps marching forward. The only difference is, Chris isn’t marching with it any longer.
He didn’t want a funeral, or as his wife recounts him calling it, “the dead guy show.” Instead he hoped family, friends and colleagues would find meaningful ways to celebrate his life in their own ways.
Along those lines, members of Chris’s immediate family have written tributes to him below, and are hoping those who read this will offer their own tributes in the comments section.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in his memory, either to the scholarship fund Chris wanted set up or to one of the many charities he supported, please click here.
Susan (Chris’s wife)
The Chris Bord motto was “do the right thing”. That included crazy things like buying equipment to start a new lighting business when he had promises to fulfill and no access to lights and dimmers. It meant paying child support when he had no income; going to college while working full-time; waking up in the night to help with infant care; staying in the theater until the wee hours of the morning writing cues so nobody had to stress about them being finished on time; and staying behind with the last struggling hiker to make sure everyone made it back to camp.
What made Chris most special is that he was a master of “surprise and delight.” He tried to surprise and delight audiences with his lighting cues looking for special moments in each show and buying extra equipment, as needed, to do so. For me, it meant shaving his overgrown beard and mustache for the first time so I could see his handsome face, proposing on a mountaintop, packing and putting notes in my lunch box, writing cards just to say “I love you,” sending unexpected flowers to my work, making a special meal on an ordinary day, baking treats as I stressed my way through tele-therapy sessions, buying a new car for my birthday, and booking a surprise trip to Disney and an anniversary tour of Europe. I will forever cherish those memories.
Sarah (Chris’s youngest daughter)
I’ve been stuck on what to say about any of this. Nothing feels real, yet at the same time deceivingly normal. That is until I turn to ask a question and realize I have to find the answer on my own. My dad used to joke with me that “everything I knew I learned from TV shows, or musicals”. He even has a blog post with a similar title in regards to his own knowledge sources. What I don’t think he ever realized is that everything I know I actually learned from him. He’s the reason I was watching any of those tv shows, listening to those albums/artists, and working in theater in the first place. He and I created our own language through art; finding ways to insert a dialogue of tv quotes into any conversation, singing every schlocky song that played with exaggerated passion and dramatics, and defending our titles as masters of the drop the needle test as long as it was on love ballads and breakup songs.
Holidays will be hard, as will birthdays and big life events, but for me the days I’m fearing most are ones when a favorite tv show releases a new season or a favorite artist drops new music. Taylor Swift’s album releases won’t be the same without them playing (for the 3rd or 4th time) as I wake up and the carefully thought out critique of each song with the details researched and explained.
So dad, I’m not talking bout the linens… it rains in your bedroom… what’s next? There’s always money in the banana stand. Have fun storming the castle.
Pat & Jim Yule (Chris’s Aunt & Uncle)
We just couldn’t believe it when Susan called and said Chris had passed. He seemed semi-optimistic when we last spoke with him, so it came as a complete, unexpected surprise when we found out what happened.
When we think of him we remember his first visit with us on Cape Cod when he was around 3 months old, with he and Cathy sharing rides in the same carriage and sitting together in their baby seats on the kitchen counter. We remember Christmas mornings, vacations on the Cape and Big Moose Lake, camping trips to Buck Pond, climbs in the Adirondacks, Chris and Cathy dancing together at Cathy’s wedding, holiday meals and so many more things.
When Chris was born, there were difficulties and he scored low on the Apgar test. That was the last time he ever scored low on anything. Chris was many things. He was bright, friendly, talented, generous with his time and talents, fun to be around and an all around good guy. But most importantly, he was like the son we never had. We will always miss him and love him.
“He is not dead – he is just away.”
MaryEllen Fitzgerald-Bord (Chris’s older daughter)
My father was a man that, as I grew older, I grew apart from. Today, sitting here to write, I found myself categorizing the features of his I recognize in myself. Green eyes. A love of musical theater. Of Bruce Springsteen. But thinking on, I found myself fixating on characteristics that I have often tried to hide, ones that I’ve always known to be similar to his. A tendency to be overly critical, a tendency to value my viewpoint higher than others, and a stubborn desire to be right.
I sat with those characteristics for a while. As I sat, they started to morph into something that felt more comfortable. Human. I realized that there is beauty in being overly critical; while you notice the bad, a keen eye will also surely notice the good. Valuing your own viewpoint allows for pride in yourself, and a strong sense of confidence. A desire to be right… Well, that’s just good sense. When does being wrong ever feel good? My father was always one for good sense.
I wish I could talk with him just once more to explain that while I didn’t really understand him, I understand his pride. I share that. When I was a girl he taught me trivial lessons, but as an adult I think he unknowingly taught me the most valuable of all; we are not the sum of what everyone thinks of us but instead we are how we choose to see ourselves. That is peace.
Cathy Yule (Chris’s cousin, born less than a month after him)
I’ll start by saying that I never expected to be writing anything like this or saying goodbye to Chris so soon. He was a constant presence from the very beginning and I honestly can’t remember a time when Chris wasn’t there. I think that he knew me as well as (or better!) than nearly anyone else, and his passing leaves a huge void in my life.
Growing up, some of my happiest memories are from our times together during holidays, vacations on Cape Cod and camping trips at Buck Pond. We once did a classic lip sync performance to “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (he, of course, was Barbra Streisand and I was Neil Diamond). We canoed, we hiked, we talked about how much we loved Barry Manilow. I blame him for the abject terror I felt after he convinced me to read “The Shining” in my tent as a teenager. I credit him with challenging me to start running and training with me for our first Boilermaker 15K. As adults, our relationship remained as easy and natural as ever despite living so far apart. We were in the habit of checking in with each other frequently, and I find myself constantly thinking of things that I want to discuss with him. It feels so strange not to have that connection anymore.
He had been talking recently about coming to WA for a visit, and I am so sad that we were not able to make that happen. I’m also sad that we never got back to Cape Cod again, and it’s been decades since we last enjoyed a large swirl cone from Donnelly’s. But I’m grateful for all of the wonderful memories I have and the years we spent together.
I miss you, Chris…and I love you.
Brian Bord (Chris’s brother)
“Keep waiting, keep thinking. I’m done.”
Those were the last words my brother ever said to me, written as part of a long text string he initiated regarding the upcoming election. Suffice to say it surprised me, but not pleasantly so. Now before you shut out the further ravings of an obviously disgruntled sibling, please read on. It’s not what you think.
I’ve since had many chances to dissect the reason behind his decision to apparently disown me, and I think it boils down to one factor that defined him at his core: Chris had passion. As a kid, every comic book that arrived at the house from his many subscriptions would be read carefully one time, then mylar bagged and filed in a footlocker, away from light and dust. Music was more than just background to him. He threw everything he had into every effort, whether it be portraying Bill Sikes in “Oliver”, serving various roles in his church, or simply writing what he thought of various brown liquors. His passion burned through. And I guess it burned a bit out of control when it came to me.
Growing up, my brother was my hero. Pure and simple. He was the reason I went for drama and chorus. He was SO much better than me at both, but I still wanted to follow as his lesser shadow. I got a paper route because he had one. I started listening to and loving certain bands because he brought them into the house, and the sound of Styx or The Rolling Stones playing out of our mahogany console stereo is one of the sweetest memories I will ever have. He meant the world to me, and that is the whole reason I went so far as to write this, the first thoughts I’ve detailed in this way since I heard of his death. Because his death is that much more tragic for the loss of an opportunity. An opportunity for self-reflection on both sides of the rift. An opportunity for realization and growth. An opportunity for recognition that there is little in life more important than the bond that comes with the shared experience of family. And this will stick with me for a long time.
I miss you, Chris. I will keep waiting. I will keep thinking.
Megan Eaton (Chris’s Sister)
My oldest brother… He was smart, funny, wildly creative, musical, thoughtful, generous, critical, helpful, driven, dependable, deliberate, opinionated, and a study in contrasts.
When we were kids, I looked up to him. As adults, I oscillated between craving his approval and thinking he was all wrong about life. Relationships with big brothers can be weird like that.
He was a huge presence for me, even during stints when one of us had closed the door on the other for a bit. He wasn’t afraid to stop communicating if a person didn’t come around to his way of thinking. We’d gone a couple rounds on that. A few years ago, though, he demonstrated something pretty special. He taught me that people evolve and beliefs can change. He reached out his hand to rekindle our sibling friendship, and I grabbed it.
This quote by Rumi reminds me of what our more recent interactions were like. “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” I really enjoyed meeting him in that field and sharing the everyday happenings of our lives. He was easier-going, smiled more and seemed to have caught up with life’s sweeter side.
Of all the things he did in his 51 years, though, maybe the best was helping create four fantastic humans. My brother made me an aunt starting at a young age, and it’s been one of the greatest gifts I’ve yet experienced. Christopher, MaryEllen, Jonathan and Sarah each carry a spark of their dad in their mannerisms or looks. So even though my brother’s no longer here, hints of him remain and I find that comforting.
My brother went away too soon, yet he left a lifetime worth of memories — and so many facets of himself that only through his passing can I now see.
I love you, Chris, and I hope the view is spectacular (and music, and theater!) wherever you are. xx
Anyone wishing to add their own tribute to Chris, we hope you’ll do so in the comments below.
And if you’re interested in making a donation in Chris’s memory, we’ve created a page with that information that can be accessed by clicking here. Thank you.