ON THE SUNNY SIDE: Christopher Story VI was a great optimist, who conducted free concerts at the courthouse over the decades (above) and fathered a busy family. | Credit: Fritz Olenberger

In Memoriam | Christopher Story VI: 1925-2022

How do you put finite words to an infinite man? Take Einstein, Beethoven, Ringo, Leibowitz, Roddenberry, Krupa, Jimmy Stewart, Johnny Carson, James Bond, Glen Miller (the list goes on and on), and throw in a huge dollop of Peter Pan and you got Chris Story. In his early forties, he attended a classical concert, looked up at the conductor, and said “Hey, I wanna do that!” and so he did. He was practically self-taught, and note that this was well before the internet or YouTube. He formed the West Coast Symphony and all its offshoots; 55 years of concerts ensued. Truly, the only time he cried was when he thought about how beautiful classical music was. There absolutely needs to be a plaque in his name on those courthouse steps for the more than five decades of free concerts he gave during Fiesta and the Fourth of July. Orchestras aren’t cheap! 

Perpetually happy, of course he served as board president of The Optimist Club. He’d tell his angsty daughters, “See every problem as an opportunity!” and then, in a high-pitched voice, say, “Wheeeeeeeeee!” Nobody sang a better rendition of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” than he.

A kid at heart and a creature of habit, he’d have half a grapefruit every single morning and two Oreo cookies every single night. He considered Carrows and IHOP fine dining. Like Buddy from Elf, he loved food, especially if it involved sugar. He would be the first at the table, with his napkin fixed like a bib — gotta protect that tie — as if to say, “Let’s get this party started!” He was not a fan of anything spicy. Mild salsa was too much. He told the story of a wedding reception he attended that served all Japanese food. He took a huge spoonful of green tea ice cream. Nope — it was, in fact, wasabi. Can’t get any spicier than that! He almost had a coronary!

He believed in moderation in everything except for sci-fi. We think his mind was so far beyond this time and place that science fiction made the most sense to him.

He was the original Trekkie, and we will challenge anyone who doubts that. We had to bolt out of many a restaurant, practically bringing the plates with us, because “Star Trek is about to start!” He had a dream goal to build a Star Trek: Enterprise hotel/park in Las Vegas. Blueprints were drafted, and Gene Roddenberry was “on board.” Growing up, there were times when he was driving five screaming girls in the station wagon, with Mom yelling “Shut up!” and blindly batting at them, and we’re sure Scotty was “beaming him up” as he air-conducted symphonies in his head.

Credit: Courtesy

At 78, he was the only person over 13 in line for Disney’s first virtual-reality ride, and, looking like a kid at Christmas, he was clearly the most excited. He called everyone “Kiddo” and “Tiger” or “There he is!” when he couldn’t remember your name. He could do anything that took brain power. He was a composer, pianist, drummer, actor, singer, financier. He could speak a lot to a little bit of every language and loved meeting foreigners to practice with. Of course, he could tell them a joke in their native tongue.

He was an avid tennis player and even played his fair share of cricket. He was brilliant at bridge, chess, and gin, letting his daughters win often, but not always, to keep them sharp. He was the Limerick King. We had to save many a person from being “limericked to death” by him — a classy gentleman who could tell a dirty joke that would have the queen cackling. Jokes he could tell, one after the other for hours, with pitch-perfect timing. What a massive vault his mind was.

He wore three-piece suits to picnics, barbecues, and pool parties because he learned somewhere that “Ya gotta dress for success.” As he got older, we finally talked him into sweat suits for casual events. In his white Adidas, he looked more like a rapper and delighted in doing his best Snoop Dogg impersonation: leaned back, arms folded high, and a De Niro pout. 

Costumes, oh, how he loved costumes, and he loved his kids in costumes. He literally beamed with joy watching his kids perform and was always their number-one fan. His tips for improvement were always spot-on. He told Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats, with complete sincerity, that he should turn down his guitar because you couldn’t hear the horn section. Guess what — he was right.

Whether he was gracing the stage with his first wife, Dorothy, at the Lobero (sharing the limelight with Charlton Heston); entertaining the masses with his wife of 43 years, Barbara; or taking the show on the road with wife Candi, life was a stage, and oh boy did he love it!

He was always humble and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. When Mom told him he had to discipline his daughters, he’d put on his best gruff voice and bellow, “You girls better shape up or ship out!” He’d then turn to Mom, smiling from ear to ear, and ask, “Was that good!?”

“Kill ’em with kindness!” was his mantra.

“Worry is interest on trouble not yet due.”

“Don’t waste time with the ribbon clerks; go to the top.”

And a favorite: “The first hundred years are the worst.”

He saw life as a game, and every morning, he leapt out of bed to play! Sitting there drinking his coffee, which was all milk and sugar, he’d tell his kids that you can create anything you want. Even going into a packed parking lot was grounds for manifestation, as he always “created” an empty spot.

Possibly the original inspiration for FOMO, Chris wanted to do everything. “Why not?” he’d say.

He was the sixth of eight Christopher Storys, and from the three we know and love, we can say they are savants, one and all. Chris Story VI walked, talked, and breathed the power of positive thinking and instilled that in his adoring kids. There will never be a person like him. Ever.

He taught us every day to look at the world with wonderment and stars in our eyes. To find in every moment the utter joy of life and the glee to be had.

How incredibly lucky were we that we got to walk with him for as long we did on his fantastic and incredible journey. Suffice it to say, we are a bit jealous of Heaven now.

A Celebration of Life will be held on November 20, 2-5 p.m., at Harry’s Plaza Café in the Ranchero Room. Come pop in and share a favorite “Story” of the late, great Chris Story.


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