Remembering Chris Shewokis

Chris Shewokis, one of our airport’s nicest people was buried yesterday, the victim of a non-aviation accident. He was 51 and had worked at Hanscom Field for his entire career.

Chris endured a horrific commute (minimum of one hour each way) so that his daughters could enjoy the great outdoors and good schools of southern New Hampshire. He was a big man and it can’t have been any fun stuck in two hours of traffic in a compact car. However, he never complained about this. Maybe commuting is the ultimate parental sacrifice in our modern times?

Chris was perhaps the most cheerful person at the airport. In over 15 years I never heard him raise his voice or utter an unkind word. Nor can I remember him without a smile on his face. In an era when complaints about inequality find a ready audience, a guy whose job included helping the richest people on the planet get in and out of their Gulfstreams never once expressed envy or bitterness regarding his relative financial position in life. At the same time he never provided a less warm welcome to pilots of single-engine piston airplanes ordering 10 gallons of 100LL.

Chris was most recently manager of the Rectrix FBO and provided an inspiring example of management style. If you didn’t know the management structure and didn’t reflect on the question of why someone in a jacket and tie was connecting a tow bar to a turboprop, you might never have guessed that he was the boss, seeing him out on the ramp working shoulder-to-shoulder with the newest guys. He never asked anyone to do something he wasn’t willing and able to do himself.

Current and former employees gathered at the funeral home and shared their memories. “On my last day,” said a guy who moved on/up to a maintenance shop in Manchester, New Hampshire, “he told me that if there was ever anything that I needed for my career or a personal favor I should call him.”

I hadn’t previously met Chris’s wife and daughters, but at the gathering it was plain that Chris and Suzanne had built a strong extended family network for their daughters. The girls talked about all of the outdoor activities that they’d done with their dad, including ice fishing(!), and how much that time had meant to them. One benefit of living in the digital age is that we were able to see hundreds of photos of family activities and maybe that will help the girls keep their memories refreshed. Still, a terrible loss for the children and difficult to comprehend or understand.

I will miss Chris.

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2 Comments »

  1. Jack D

    November 11, 2017 @ 6:55 pm

    1

    What sort of accident? 51 is too soon, too soon.

  2. Javier

    November 11, 2017 @ 9:45 pm

    2

    This is a great eulogy, he must’ve been a good friend to you. I feel sorry for your loss.

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