Christopher Michael (Chris) Abbasse was born prematurely on March 31, 1958, so tiny he could fit in the cradle of his father’s hand. Little did anyone know he would grow to be the tallest of Helen and Ahmed’s four boys. Chris grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he graduated from East Kentwood High School and Aquinas College, but not before trying his hand at third-shift piece work at Steelcase and stamping as a UAW member at General Motors. He went on to earn graduate degrees from St. John’s College (Annapolis) and UNC-Greensboro’s School of Education. Most recently he was working toward a licensure in instructional technology at Appalachian State University. From 1990 to 2006, Chris taught science and/or history at two schools in New York City: Rice High School where he served as Dean, and Frederick Douglass Academy, both in Harlem; and also in Wake County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. In 2006, he was appointed ‘guybrarian’ at Culbreth Middle School, his favorite job ever, which blended his love of books and technology of all kinds with creative teaching and learning opportunities. Throughout his career as an educator, Chris was also a coach, mentor, and champion. He served as head coach or assistant coach for junior varsity and varsity basketball teams, many at the elite level; bowling; ultimate frisbee; golf; and many hardcore Battle of the Books teams. He loved playing golf himself, and reading, hiking, swimming and photography also made him happy.His love of music was legendary. Chris listened to everything from gypsy jazz to soul to psychedelic rock to Middle Eastern classical to bluegrass and folk. He regularly played guitar and mandolin with his talented and fun-loving colleagues, and occasionally toured with his favorite band, Shakedown Street.More than anything Chris loved his family, and he leaves behind his mother, Helen; brother Kevin and wife Linda; brother Darin and wife Dana; nieces Jaime Felber, Kirstyn Abbasse, and Claire Abbasse; nephew Joshua Abbasse; and an extended, loving, Lebanese clan of uncles, aunts, cousins and other kin. He was predeceased by his father, Ahmed, and brother, Randy, far too soon. He also leaves behind hundreds and hundreds of students from New York to North Carolina who were touched by his gifts, kindness and courage, and whom he loved with all his heart and mind. His many special friends are too numerous to list. You know who you are.Services are planned in Grand Rapids, MI, in early May. A memorial service is being planned at Culbreth Middle School for later this spring. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be directed to the Music Maker Relief Foundation (www.music <a href="http://maker.org" target="_new">maker.org</a>).
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