Maybe it happens while you watch a sunset that only takes place in Colorado, where the purples melt to orange, and then fade to yellow before saying goodnight behind the Rocky Mountains. Or perhaps it occurs during a Broncos game and you notice one voice louder than the roar of the crowd. But then it might be when you hear any number of '80s songs that played on a continuous loop back in the MTV days. It will be different for all of us, but during these everyday moments we'll know Chris is still with us.
Born in Littleton on March 10, 1967, Christopher Alan Tonsing was so proud to be a native of Colorado he would argue with friends about how the Centennial State was better than other parts of the country, even if he had never been to those other places. Chris was loyal, and Colorado was home.
Chris attended South Elementary School (now Ralph Moody), Grant Junior High, Euclid Junior High and Heritage High School. If he made a lot of friends in elementary school, he made even more in junior high, and then outdid that number in high school. Until the night he died on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Chris was still friends with all of them. All of them. Chris was loyal, and they were a part of his life.
Sports always played a big role for Chris, whether it was competing in soccer, basketball, baseball and football, or watching his favorite professional teams like the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Lakers, Colorado Avalanche or even the Montreal Expos. But then along came music.
By sixth grade, Chris was finding his passion. Early on there was KISS and Van Halen (and of course, RUSH), and he would also claim a Village People guilty pleasure, but music was it. Bring on the drums, bring on the basement bands, and do it loud and fast, please. Chris would pick up more lifelong friends with the various iterations of Illusion, Knox, 80 Proof and The Strugglers. You want to talk about relationships? The day people learned of Chris' passing, the members of his original band had a group phone call in his honor. That goes back 40 years. Chris was loyal, and they were a part of his soul.
In 1991 Chris would meet Michelle Yant at a 30th birthday party for Chris' sister, Mary Ann. On September 12, 1992 Michelle would become his wife. They started a family with the birth of Elias Hale on October 25, 1994, and Joshua Matthias on June 26, 1999. Sadly, they would lose Elias to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on February 10, 1995.
Chris was a security guard at Republic Plaza in downtown Denver for 18 years. It's the tallest building in the Rocky Mountain region yet Chris seemed to know everyone who entered. When the custodial staff found out about his death, some of them drove to Littleton to hand-deliver a card to Chris' wife. Chris was loyal, and they were a part of his career.
As social media became more popular, Chris used it as a way to connect like no one else. His posts were positive with a capital P and even a + sign. His friends not only looked forward to his messages, but often found they were just what they needed at just the right time. He did the same through text and phone calls. The number of people who heard from Chris on a regular basis was astounding. They all felt like they were part of a small, close group, yet learned it was an enormous list of friends who were members of his inner circle.
So you might sense Chris and his big smile when you see a Peanuts comic; or on your birthday when he'd tell you to enjoy your special week; or at a gathering when someone makes a joke so bad you want to roll your eyes but you can't help but laugh. Chris was loyal, and he's still with us.
Chris is preceded in death by his mother Mary Ellen, father John, son Elias, stepfather Bob, stepbrothers Martin and Tony, and mother-in-law, Barbara W. Yant. He is survived by his wife Michelle, son Joshua, brother Clif (Marcella), sister Mary Ann, nephew Liam, nieces Lily and Annika, stepbrother Robert (Ann), and father-in-law Oren ("Sid") H. Yant.
Service will be held Friday, July 9 at 11AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1939 E. Easter Avenue, Littleton, CO, 80122.
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Published by Colorado Community Media on Jun. 24, 2021.