In Honor of Chris Lemone

Grace Wynne

Chairman of the Board

Chris is an individual that once you meet him, you won’t forget him. He has that effect on people; his vibrant laugh, outgoing personality, and ability to help people are characteristics that everyone should strive to have. I am so thankful that he saw the need for an organization like TAG in Staples and instead of ignoring the problem, he acted to create a safer social scene. TAG has allowed me to work with a group of people who share the same values and passion for making sure students make smart decisions. I wish that Chris was still around to see the amazing events we have planned for this year, but I know that he is smiling down on us. It’s crazy to think that it has been a year since Chris left us, and I still miss seeing him in the TAG office. He will have a lasting impact on TAG, this community, and all the students he interacted with. We miss you Chris!

Gabriela Vega 

Fundraising 

Although I did not have the pleasure of getting to know you, I know how you affected the lives of many and how you brightened people's worlds; a true hero. We miss you dearly, not only our TAG family, but the many students and lives you touched through your bright and kind personality and words. You inspire us every day. We love you Chris, and miss you every day.

Brandon Adrian 

It’s been awhile since we have been able to talk. I’d like to catch you up on the new members. The sophomores never got to introduce themselves to you and neither you to them. With all of them being humble and modest people, they would never admit to being a very productive and amazing class. TAG will clearly improve in the upcoming years. It’s unfortunate that they will go through their high school years without your charisma and passion for our community. Along with these sophomores is a handful of juniors that you have possibly encountered but not connected with. Us juniors have had little time with you but enough to realize the impact you caused on everyone around you. We all miss you. Your passing was a lesson within itself. What I personally have learned from it was to cherish everything and never for once take anything for granted. I attempt to approach the day with positive thoughts hopefully persuading someone else to do the same. I wish I was able to learn more from you Chris. But with the little I have, I’d like to say thank you.

 

Claire Lonergan

Head of Conduct Review Committee

Whenever Chris’s names gets mentioned in conversation, a mixture of reactions become as equally prevalent as they do hidden. Some look down in grief over the lost memories of their former counselor and friend. Some laugh in remembrance of Chris’s peculiar sense of humor. And yet, others show no emotion at all, for they have no idea how such an admired figure could have left so suddenly, without any explanation. All of these reactions are the result of one true certainty: Chris has an unbelievable ability to be extremely honest and was respected for it. When he expressed values that went against common thinking, he was not looked down upon. In fact, not only were his opinions considered, but more often than not, they sparked new understandings. For me, Chris’s absence becomes strongest in times when both myself and those around me fall into the ruthless trap of being ordinary. Thinking ordinarily, acting ordinarily, and feeling ordinary. When I spoke to Chris, he made me feel strong, and determined, and capable. Nobody ever had to question where they could go when they needed to feel important. Chris had a talent for extracting the unique nature out of each individual that came along his path. The reason he could do so was because he had instilled it within himself first. Chris did not fear judgement. He accepted that he, too, had enemies, and yet, he loved and appreciated himself nonetheless. The world needs more people like Chris-those who are not afraid to be completely, 100% who they are and happy with it. It is difficult for those who knew Chris to recall his amazing character without feeling mournful or nostalgic. I did not know Chris for very long.  However, a simple thought allows me to move past the feelings of grief when the pain of his absence becomes overwhelming. Chris made a mark on each student, teacher, family member, and friend. It brings me peace to know that those who knew Chris, carry within them a sense of potential that he brought out of them. Having been granted Chris’s gentle push, hopefully, we will all use our own strength and maturity to nurture our individual uniqueness.

 

Ed Milton Student Outreach Counselor and Co Advisor of TAG  

Brother Lem, You are missed and loved. It's been a bizarre year without you. The Presidential Election , Global Warming, Putin and Russia, Isis and last but not least Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are over. We miss your wisdom, humorous approach to life and general care and concern for others. Your perspective and quick wit was one of your many gifts. A gift you freely shared with all of those lucky enough to know you. Mostly the message I would like to get to you on this anniversary is I want you to know all your peeps; Westport Human Services Department, Staples and your Teen Awareness Group are "keeping it tight". You are loved! You are accomplished! You were a gift to us and your legacy lives on with your family, friends, students and colleagues.

Elaine Daignault Advisor of TAG

I imagine that my life would have been very different had I not met Chris at Staples High School in 1998 where he began his first day as the Student Outreach Counselor and I was working in what was then the Freshman Center, exactly where the SOC Office sits today. Chris was not only a colleague and friend with whom I shared daily trials and tribulations; he was my mentor and confidante.  

 

In the span of the 17 years we worked together, it was Chris who inspired me to go back to school to get my master's degree in counseling and Chris who cheered me on when I needed it the most. He had a way of allaying my fears and making me feel as though I would always have him in my corner.  

 

Chris had a keen sense of the needs of people around him and at some point along the way, we became a team.  He was always my first call when I had a tough case or just needed to vent.  He was so FUNNY!  I knew that I could call Chris if I needed a good laugh and to put things in perspective.  Between us we probably covered every curse word in the book during those conversations!  

 

Chris was my compass at work, he taught me about the power of listening and how to genuinely connect to kids, allowing them to find their own voices.  He also counseled me through many of life’s ups and downs.  He did so always with encouragement and a sense of humor.   

 

Surprisingly, among the pain of his loss, what I have found is that Chris’ light lives on in all of the people he has touched along the way.  TAG meant the world to him and we are all seeing to it that his legacy of caring for kids lives on.  

 

Chris was truly one of the most kind, thoughtful, trustworthy and dependable men around and nothing was more important to him than his family.  We are all sending healing thoughts and appreciation to Kim,  Samantha,Madison and Ryan.  Thank you for sharing Chris with the Staples community for all these years.  

 

I miss you, my friend.  

 

Jackson Daignault Social Media Director 

There are no words that truly honor Chris Lemone. Chris was such a great, kind loving soul. A truly indescribable character. Once you met him, you felt his effect for ever. He had a great way of making you feel like nothing mattered except for you, and he was always there when you needed someone. He was so treasured by not only me, but the entire Staples community.

 

I remember the night that he passed, I was in complete shock. I never in a million years thought that we would ever lose Chris Lemone. He was one of the most strong, charismatic people I had ever met. He didn’t deserve this.

 

During my freshman year, I would peep my head into the TAG office just to say hi, and he always welcomed me with open arms. He would always ask me what was up, and if there was anything he could do to help me out. My Mom used to always say to me “If you need anything, Chris is your guy.”

 

Chris had such an indescribable impact on the Staples community. Not only TAG members, but people from all over Staples came to pay their respects while we huddled in the TAG office. Some of the strongest people I have ever met were in a complete loss of emotions to deal with the loss of Chris. Chris just had that kind of impact on people. It was impossible to be nothing but happy in his presence.

 

Chris’s honesty is what made me value him so much. He was always truthful with us, and always kept it real. I always thought of Chris as a helping hand, as a friend. I always knew that he would do whatever he could in order to help me. I knew that if I ever needed advice, he would give me the best damn advice possible, of course with a couple swears thrown in.

 

We were able to see Chris the day before he passed at one of our TAG events. We were so blessed to see him one final time, so happy.

 

Rest in Peace Chris, we miss you everyday.

Lauren Stack Co-President 

I always thought it was amazing how Chris would find ways to joke around and make people smile, while still maintaining his serious demeanor about helping others. His dry sense of humor and talent of fitting a swear into every sentence (even when it seemed impossible) would light up a room and fill it with laughter.

 

I wish I could go back to eating lunch in his office, while he tried to persuade me that Metallica has a positive effect on the brain which resulted in me laughing until I choked. It’s difficult passing by, not seeing him frantically type away at his desk of “organized chaos,” as he used to call it.

 

I can’t help but think that there was so much left unsaid and so many conversations to be had, but if I were able to say one thing to Chris, it would only be two simple words. Thank you. His office was always a place where I could find answers, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the old yellow chairs dishing out valuable advice.

 

He had a way with people. Chris somehow knew what you were thinking long before you even had a clue. Every word that came out of his mouth was meaningful and with a purpose. I’m still trying to figure out how he always knew exactly what to say, when to say it, and how. Chris gave all of us someone to look up to. He was the epitome of selflessness, compassion, and hard work. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have had such an unbelievable role model, mentor, and friend.

 

Chris shaped TAG from the bottom up, starting at just two members, he built it into a 501c3 non profit organization . His dedication and passion for helping others is the reason why the group has evolved into something so special. Chris’s legacy is not just within the realm of TAG, it lives within all of the people he touched. He made an incomparable impact within the community and touched so many lives. I don’t think he ever understood how influential he was in the lives of everyone that knew him. With someone like Chris, you didn’t need to know him for years to feel impacted, just one minute of talking to him and you would gain a new idea and perspective.

 

One of the things that kept me grounded and gave me comfort was the rubber bracelet we got in memory of Chris. Everytime I look down and see it, it makes me think about ways I can better myself. It inspires me to help others and gives me a push to do more. The frivolous simply become less important when I look at it. The wrist band symbolizes everything that I aspire to be. Chris was one of the most empathetic, blunt, and selfless people I have ever met. And I strive to have a fraction of the patience and compassion that he did.

 

We miss you more than you could ever imagine, but we’re doing our best to make you proud and carry out your unforgettable legacy. You will always be apart of the TAG family.


Thanks for being such a badass.

Anay Simunovic Treasurer 

As I approached the student outreach office, the booming sound of rock music became increasingly apparent. I lightly tapped on the open door and heard a friendly voice call out, “Come on in.”As I entered the small rectangular room illuminated by garish fluorescent lighting, I was greeted by a warm smile. I awkwardly sat myself down on the rather stiff leather couch, adjusted my clothing and crossed my legs; attempting to make myself as formal as possible for my Teen Awareness Group (TAG) interview.

His sense of relaxation and ease worked to calm my nerves. After pausing the music playing from his computer, he spun around to face me. He looked at me with gentle eyes and stuck out his hand, “Hi, I’m Chris Lemone.” Those four words made all the difference. The nervousness that had been building up within my system was immediately released and I spent the rest of the interview conversing with Chris and a few other  TAG members.

I strongly believe that this particular situation is a clear portrayal of the characteristics and abilities of the person we all knew to be Chris Lemone. Chris obtained the unique ability to make anyone and everyone feel comfortable and connect with them. He served many roles within that office whether it be a person to laugh with or a shoulder to cry on.

I know myself well enough to realize that I am an extremely guarded person. I put up a wall in order to protect myself. From the little time that I had with Chris, he was able to help me break down that wall and come to a better self-understanding.

All this being said, we have so much to learn from Chris; however, I think one of the most important lessons to take away from him is to treat everyone with love and respect. In addition, he taught me the importance of empathy.

Rest in peace Chris. We miss and love you but know that you're doing amazing things wherever you are.

Love,

Anay

Jack Norman Co-President 

I have put a lot of thought into what I wanted to write about for today and how I wanted to express what Chris meant to me, and the impact that he had on my life. That is an impossible task. The day I first walked into the TAG office I knew that I had found a special place and when I got into TAG, I knew that I had become a part of something bigger than any one individual. Chris made talking about loss, grief, and sadness a comfortable and easy task. Chris made listening to hard rock a soothing experience. He made people feel safe and welcome. He was a truly special man.

 

His loss impacted me tremendously. Sadness does not begin to articulate the feelings I have felt over the past year in regard to loosing him. One of the most heartbreaking realizations that I have come to has been that those who will come after us, new TAG kids, kids who come into the office for help, or students just looking for candy will not get to experience the type of man Chris was. His mellow mood and his affinity for hard rock music do not begin to describe what is missed about him. 

 

He would proofread an email for hours before even considering sending it. He redefined the word badass in the best possible way. He knew just by looking at you if something was the matter and wouldn’t let it go until he knew what was wrong. He helped countless young people find their voices and be heard. He taught self-encouragement and self-confidence. He was an advocate for teenagers to stand up for what they believed in and go after their dreams. He, in the same conversation, could make a baseball reference, a musical theatre reference, and swear…at least three times.

 

He thought he was cool and he was so right. His signature at the bottom of all emails to us read, “Keep it tight.” One day I asked him what exactly that meant and his only response was “You know…just keep it tight!”

 

A few weeks after he passed away, I found a notebook filled with doodles in his office. In flipping through the pages, I found a page where Chris had written down a quote. In his unique handwriting the quote read, “Experience is what you get when life gives you something other than what you asked for.” I like to think that this year, while devastating, sad and trying, has brought our TAG family closer and helped us all remember the positives in life and in Chris’s legacy.

 

For this, I thank you, Chris. And miss you dearly.