My day has had huge ups and downs already. I was celebrating having accomplished my shopping, wrapping and shipping and just a few minutes later I saw a tweet from my friend Amy of @KYFarmersMatter. It was simple and just like that the lights dimmed for me.
Another friend of ours had already replied and the next tweet caused my bit of the world to shake.
I know it will be hard for other people to understand how sad such news could make me when I had only been able to hangout with Chris Raines (or ITweetMeat to his many Twitter friends) in person a few times, but he had such an incredible light within him that it traveled from Pennsylvania to Memphis & St. Louis frequently!
As I read the Centre Daily and saw the information about the car accident, tears welled up. I keep hoping someone will tell me its all just a horrible mistake and Chris is fine. And my thoughts immediately went to so many friends who I knew must either be grieving or unaware of the tragedy. Its hard to put this all into words, and a short phone call with my niece proved to me that I should try putting words on the blog, as talking about this will be very hard.
Here are some of the many reasons why I will miss Chris:
- Chris had an INCREDIBLE mind. A month or so ago, a colleague and I were talking about some livestock issues. I decided I needed a touchstone, someone who knew nothing about what we were talking about to see how it looked from a different viewpoint. We got on the phone with Chris and he was asking all kinds of questions before I knew what hit me. Luckily my colleague understood the questions and enjoyed the exercise fully! Our work will be so much better for having gotten Chris’ input and yet we will not be able to reach the heaights I think we would had Chris been able to continue with the project.
- Chris brought enthusiasm and excitement to everything he did. Whether it was getting a new puppy or finding a gap in the information about meat that existed, Chris gave EVERYTHING I was involved with him on 110 percent. Every interaction with Chris, even as we talked about a recent breakin at his apartment, left me feeling better than I had before I talked to, tweeted or Skyped with him.
- Chris loved people. A lot of people say they are “a people person” and I never heard Chris say this, but it was written in every action. He found interacting with people invigorating. Sitting next to him at the first AgChat Foundation board meeting and conference had untold benefits as both of us were meeting people in real life we had talked to online for years. Chris took time to get all of us and he did the same thing online. He didn’t look at labels but looked beyond them and found unique friendships at every turn.
- Chris loved meat and farms, and not just in tweets! He inspired people to learn through his passion. The extent to which he went to help Flat Stanley and my nephew learn about meat processing will never be forgotten. Jake and I talked about Chris and the adventures Stanely had with him when Jake had his first chance to meet some cows up close. No doubt he also took away Jake’s trademark phrase for steak -“man candy” as it met with much delight for Chris.
I’m going to miss trading tales of iPad apps with Chris as he helped me discover so many things that an agnerd needs to know.
I’ll miss a friend who I could talk ag and politics with and enjoy both conversations equally.
I’ll wonder who’s going to be out there at the screenings of movies that misrepresent agriculture…. Chris did so many of those events and made a real difference by making sure critical thinking was used.
For Chris’ family and close friends, I want you to know that there are likely thousands of people like me who are thinking of you in this time of what must be intense griefing. You may not see us at the services memorializing Chris, but I am certain there are thousands of us who are better and who understand more thanks to having known Chris in real life or through social media. And we will be carrying on some of the things that he cared about.
I’ll try to make note of other tributes to Chris as I see them and link to them here… feel free to add a link if you have one too. For now, I’ll go on a bit better simply for having processed this as I wrote this post…. maybe I can help others see that incredible light Chris always gave me when I have the next conversation on the topic, even if it is paired with tears.
- You should read some of Chris Raines’ thoughts on meatblogger.org
- The Good Die Young by Andy Vance
- Penn State College of Ag says the College Mourns the Loss of Meat Scientist Chris Raines
- Our friend Jesse Brussard pulled up several videos that include Chris talking about food safety & meat production. One on hormones in poutlry production, myth that inspectors rarely check meat processing plants, and others are on the MeatScienceTV channel.
- We’ll Miss Chris Raines by Jan Hoadley of SlowMoneyFarm
- Reflections About Dr. Chris Raines from a Friend, Colleague, and Follower by Jeff Stier (also posted on Jeff’s blog)
- Missing a Friend and Great Teacher by Amanda Sollman
- Social Media: Awesome and Devastating by Ryan Goodman
- On tragedy: There is a reason why we just need to figure it out ourselves by Susan Crowell
- In Memory of Dr. Chris Raines- Ulla Kjarval
- Things You Wish You Said: We’ll Miss You Chris by Kelly Rivard
- Chris Raines 1982 – 2011 from Farm and Dairy
- In Memory of Dr. Chris Raines by Randy Kuhn on AgWeb
I want to end this on a note that makes me smile. This story entertained & intrigued a friend in the way Chris entertained so many of us. Made me laugh at how he pulled together so many things into a perfect package. When I mentioned the Flat Stanley connection…. I got a quizzical look. I had to go on to explain that only Chris would think to take the time to make a labcoat and hard hat for a kid’s paperdoll! And then take that paperdoll through every piece of equipment and every stage of the meat labs! Laughter, learning and people. That was Chris!
Learn more the way taught Flat Stanley about meat processing in his post I mentioned above but had to point out how he brought it all together so uniquely.