This Gentle Giant of a Man, graduated to a higher place on Sunday morning, March 8, 2020, with wife Maureen and daughter Amy, peacefully, by his side, at home.
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Coach Dick Christopher, was born in Elizabeth City, NC to Martha and Peter Christophides. From the day he was born, he was meant to be a
coach. As a toddler, he was chosen to be the ring bearer for his sister Mary’s wedding. Dressed in a white silk suit with a tie, and nowhere to be seen, the bride wondered where he disappeared to. After seeing a baseball game going on in the sand lot next door, he placed the silk pillow on the ground, and ran to join the gang playing baseball. Yes, the ring was rescued! Those were happy years in North Carolina (NC).
Varsity baseball and football followed and junior year, a physical was due. The doctor diagnosed a heart murmur. This was 1959, and in the annals of medicine, nothing was written because nothing was known. Dick was devastated! Peter, his dad, said “We will thus move down to South Carolina (SC) and I will open another new restaurant. Maybe the next doctor won’t hear it.” Yes, that is the story.
Coach was thus a first baseman and a left tackle on the McLenaghan High School team. Excelling at these two sports, and having a great time with his teammates, he chose the University of South Carolina among his Division 1 offers for both sports. The physical exam again this time, curtailed his playing time! He pledged Sigma Nu fraternity and thus played fraternity football. They won all the championships!
At that point in time, he was devastated about his heart condition, which today is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and he was determined to dedicate his life to teaching and coaching others, instead of an NFL life for himself, and that he did! He also dedicated his life to working out daily/every other day to keep his heart healthy!
At Ashwood Central School (K-12) Dick was an assistant principal, athletic director, head baseball and head boys/girls basketball coach, football coach, and teacher. As he often said, he had five jobs. Respecting the country school, he became a mentor to young girls and boys. The yearbook staff dedicated the yearbook to him, and his baseball team was state runner-up, and the basketball team was conference champions. If moms wanted to know where their sons were on the weekends, from morning till night, they were in that gym throwing balls with “Coach”! After four years, he chose to attend Appalachian State University where he graduated with a Masters in Physical Education, 99th percentile. He was a graduate assistant in football, had a ball, and coached with Fisher De Berry. Dick idolized Fisher, as Fisher had also refereed Dicks high school basketball games at Ashwood.
Other schools that had his mentoring included Hartsville High School in SC where he was the head baseball coach, assistant football coach, and teacher. Then it was on to Loris High School, SC, where he was the head football coach, athletic director, and head baseball coach.
After visiting his sisters in Southern California, with the lure of the beach sunset, he chose to teach classes and coach football and baseball at Grossmont College in El Cajon, California. There he pushed his heart capacity and bench-pressed 500 plus pounds! He was the first charter coach for the Sheriffs’ team in 1977 of the Cop’er Bowl in the San Diego stadium. He also became a bouncer at the famous sports bar, the Beachcomber on South Mission Beach. He played on that establishments famous Over-the-line team. Dick met his wife Maureen at the “Comber” and they married in 1979 and then set off to Colorado where Fisher was! Fairview High School was his first stop and Dick taught, and coached, was the head baseball coach and assistant football coach for the offensive line. He loved coaching the “Hogs” and took them to dinner every Thursday night before a game. He also loved to grade the players and hang their scores up to encourage competition! The 1987 football team was a highlight for Dick, especially when they won the State Championship game! Summer fun was had, when Dick coached at Mile High Football camp run by Coach Sam Pagano. Dick became the head football coach at Fairview in 1990. Dick then joined Dave Ramsey’s football staff in 1995 at Boulder High School for three years!
Daughter Amy was born at the same time and Dick was mesmerized by this little baby. He nurtured her and guided her to become a coach, too! Dick was also the physical education teacher at many Boulder and Broomfield schools such as Eisenhower, Mapleton, Kohl, and Emerald. Dick completed 21 years in Boulder Valley School District and ended up in 1998 at his most cherished school, Broomfield High School, where he taught Physical Education and coached football offensive and defensive lines. The three seconds left in the state championship game, 2001, was the highlight! Broomfield lost, but Dick never took that blue jacket off. He became “Coach Blue”.
Maureen and Dick moved to San Diego near family and Dick taught and coached at Escondido High School and at Army-Navy Academy.
Amy yearned to go back to Boulder and thus three years later, the trip back began. This time Dick was the athletic director, and math, science and physical education teacher at Blessed Sacrament Elementary School, Denver. He loved the little children and he loved making a difference in their lives!
Then there was one more move, this one was to Wisconsin to be near his mother-in-law. Dick substitute taught at Big Foot High School and coached football there, again the much-loved offensive line. There, the Blue Jacket (Coach Blue) again, became a symbol for this humble man’s expertise in the game of football! They won the state championship game in 2009! Amy pitched college ball there, and Dick had the highlight of his life, being retired, somewhat, and watching and traveling to Amy’s college games. Dick set up girls’ softball instruction at the Y there and at Big Foot High School.
Returning to CO, to a much beloved home that God had other plans for, besides renting out, Dick substitute- taught in the St Vrain School District, at Holy Family High School, and at Blessed Sacrament, and loved it! In December 2014, Dick suffered a massive stroke caused by some medical- technical issues with his pacer/defibrillator. After six months in hospitals, Dick was brought home in June of 2015 and Amy gave up her first year of teaching, post -college, to care for this wonderful Daddy and role- model along with wife, Maureen. Amy was most instrumental in Dick having a most wonderful end of life, filled with dignity and love!
Our family thanks Compassus Hospice Registered Nurse Jennifer, and nurse aide Shellie, for the most professional experience that Dick could have ever had! We also want to thank immensely, Dr. Richard Parker, Presbyterian St. Lukes, who hand-crafted Dicks heart in 1998 with a surgical procedure, never done before, and which gave Amy 22 more years of her daddy’s life! Well done Dr. Parker! You said 10 years extension….imagine all the coaching and inspiration he did extra in those bonus 12 years! Dick was tenacious right to the END!
Dick is survived by wife Maureen, daughter Amy, sister Chris Murray and brother-in-law Ken Murray, sister-in-laws Karen Lehman, Colleen Goff, Susan Bromley, Julie Melvin, and Yeter Melvin, brothers-in law, Michael Melvin, Thomas Melvin, and Stephan Melvin, and mother-in-law Jacqueline Melvin, and other nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents, Peter and Martha, sisters Mary, Alice and a baby brother with heart disease.
Link to a video tribute of Dick's life: