Christopher Lee Rouzie, Berkeley carpenter for 34 years who made a contribution

Christopher Lee Rouzie. Photo: Courtesy family

Christopher Lee Rouzie, Feb. 19, 1952 -Jan. 24, 2017.

After long struggle with lung cancer and COPD, Christopher Lee Rouzie passed comfortably at home in his sleep, on Jan. 24, 2017. Poohbear, his dog, was at the foot of his bed.

Chris is remembered for his gentle manner, his craftsmanship, the expanse of his interests, and the quality of his conversations.

He was extraordinarily compassionate and perhaps too sensitive for this world. Happiness came easiest to him when he was working, often whistling a tune of contentment. Well-known around Berkeley, and welcomed in his favorite coffee shops and restaurants, he took life at his own pace — decidedly slow — and on his own terms, and found great pleasure in making people smile.

He often told stories with tears in his eyes of all the kindness shown to him, like when the checkers of Andronico’s Market took up a collection so he could take his dog to the vet. One of his favorite coffee shops would give him coffee whether he had money or not, and always a piece of bacon for his dog.

Chris made such an effort to notice and connect with people. When asked why he would tip five bucks on a cup of coffee, he would say of the barista “she always treats me like a person, and she seemed a little low today”. In another time he would have been the solitary carpenter living in the woods at the edge of town, unsuited for communal life but endlessly helpful and considerate.

Berkeley’s former Mayor Tom Bates once asked the police not to harass Chris for living out of his van because he often worked for young families and the elderly, who could not afford expensive contractors but needed skilled carpentry none-the-less. Bates declared Chris a part of the diverse Berkeley community, making a contribution where no-one else of his skill was willing or able, and if living in his van made that possible then so be it.

Chris loved Sunday afternoons down at the Marina the most, reading books or listening to a game on the radio while watching people come and go with their families. He was immensely grateful for what little he had. We who were lucky enough to know him will miss his gentle warmth and affectionate nature.

Chris is survived by two sisters: Naomi Ann Mayosky and Susan Rouzie; nephews Matt Davis, Luke Davis and Connor Harwood; cousin Jay Klingel, his wife Becca and their children, Sara, Garrett and Corey; along with his adopted family, Domingo Garcia, wife Emma, and sons, Jose and Azael.

In his memory, give big tips, smile at small children and, as he once put it: “When dealing with others, look past what is ‘broken’ — unless they’re running for office.”