He was as strong as he was emotional. He wore his heart on his sleeve and always had a special smile and knowing look to go with an immense kindness for others.
That’s what many will remember when they gather in Van Saun Park this Thursday for a memorial service for River Edge Police Detective Sgt. Chris Cheevers.
Cheevers, who died last week at 51, “intensely loved those who survive him,” his obituary says, “especially his wife Tara, his five children Avery, Katie, Joseph, Owen, and Kiersten, his siblings and cousins, their extended families and the many friends he made over his lifetime in Harrington Park, River Edge, Oak Ridge and around the world.
Cheevers was a "consistent and compassionate pillar of strength for his wife and children, reminding them in daily notes, chats, and texts that he loved them, and that they should have faith and hope and love,” it notes.
As a professional, he was more than a police officer of nearly 25 years. Cheevers also served as a substitute teacher, lifeguard, deli counter man, church lector and much, much more.
Christopher Assisi Cheevers was born in New York City in 1969 on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It gave him a unique middle name, as well as a lifelong love of nature an animals, his obituary says.
Raised in Harrington Park, Cheevers was graduated from Bergen Catholic in 1987 as a scholar and varsity athlete in swimming, cross-country, and track. He attended Southern Cal University, where he made the school’s storied swim team as a walk-on, and was graduated from St. Peter's College (now University) in Jersey City.
Cheevers was “selfless to a fault” and “a fierce defender of family,” his obituary says. “A gentle giant, he proudly walked hand-in-hand with his Mom in public….His attendance record at his children's' sporting events was amazing, and his voice was the loudest one there.”
He was “a protector of the weak and the powerless” and “fought tirelessly for those who needed a warrior to speak for them.”
Over the past week, friends, loved ones, colleagues and others have talked not just about his heart but his mind.
Cheevers “could drop accurate and arcane references at will since the days before the internet existed” and loved music, books and movies, as well as lively conversation and provocative debate, the obituary says.
He also “made the best out of any situation - whether lost in the woods in night, losing his car keys in a lake, or shoveling torrential snow for hours,” it says.
“For anyone fortunate to have Chris in their lives, they all knew that Chris was the go-to guy. He had everyone's back. The evidence is there in the joy on his face when he honored an aged WWII veteran on Memorial Day or the concerned paternal love he displayed for fostered babies born with drug addictions.
“Few carry the weight he bore humbly on his shoulders, and few can follow his charitable footsteps on behalf of so many.”
Donations in his memory can be made in lieu of flowers to the Sergeant Christopher Cheevers Memorial Fund or Warriors Heart Foundation.
There's also a GoFundMe campaign: Sergeant Christopher Cheevers Memorial Fund
“Or honor him by doing good, supporting your local PBA, volunteering, being kind to the elderly, children, and animals, or bringing peace, joy, light, kindness, laughter, and good food into this world in any other way,” the obituary says.
A public memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Thursday (May 13) at the Walden Pond Pavilion off Forest Avenue in Van Saun Park, Paramus.
It will be followed by a private family service at noon.
ARRANGEMENTS: Pizzi Funeral Home (Northvale)
OBITUARY: Christopher A. Cheevers
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.