October 23, 2012 | Back to: News

Slain Ambassador Stevens to be buried in Nevada County

Ambassador Chis Stevens, who was killed in a Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, will be buried in the western Nevada County community where he was born.

Stevens, who was born in 1960 in Grass Valley, will be laid to rest locally at a private ceremony at an undisclosed location and time, as per the family’s wishes, according to relatives and cemetery officials.

A highly publicized memorial for Stevens took place Oct. 16 under the dome at San Francisco City Hall where family members and government officials mourned his passing. Another service will take place later this fall in Washington, D.C., according to a memorial website set up by his family.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the J. Christopher Stevens Fund, according to the memorial website.

The fallen U.S. emissary was honored at Tuesday’s meeting of the Grass Valley City Council.

“America mourns the tragic death and loss of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who dedicated his life to diplomacy,” said Mayor Jan Arbuckle, reading from the proclamation passed unanimously by the council. “(T)he city of Grass Valley find(s) it necessary to acknowledge the loss not only of an ambassador for America but the loss of one of our own children born in Grass Valley.”

The proclamation, drafted at the request of resident Steve Enos, will be delivered to the Stevens’ family, which has prominent roots in Nevada County, Enos said.

Stevens’ grandfather, Elmer “Chief” Stevens, was a well-known teacher at Grass Valley High School before it consolidated with Nevada City High School and became Nevada Union.

The ambassador’s father, Jan Stevens, graduated from Grass Valley High School in 1951 and went on to work in the California Attorney General’s Office.

Relatives of the Stevens still live in the Grass Valley area.

Stevens, 52, moved to Davis soon after his birth and began his education at Pioneer Elementary School before moving to the Bay Area. As a young man, he taught English in North Africa, beginning a life-long passion for foreign service.

Stevens went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution that usurped dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

One year after his arrival, Stevens was appointed U.S. ambassador to Libya in May.

The California native reportedly died of smoke inhalation after a fire was created by a rocket-propelled grenade on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Also killed in the consulate attack were a State Department computer expert and two security agents who were former Navy SEALS.

Despite initial indications that the attack on the consulate stemmed from outrage over a satirical video of the Prophet Mohammed posted by a California man on YouTube, U.S. officials have since labeled the incident a terrorist attack.

An FBI investigation into the attack has focused blame for the attack on the Libya-based extremist group Ansar al-Shariah, an al-Qaida-linked militant organization.

The U.S. handling of the consulate and its attack has become a talking point on the broader issue of foreign policy in the U.S. presidential race.

President Obama had ranked well with the public on his handling of international issues and in fighting terrorism, especially following the death of Osama bin Laden.

But the administration’s response to the Libya attack and questions over levels of security at the consulate have given presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his Republican allies an issue with which to raise doubts about Obama’s foreign policy leadership.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.

Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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The Union Updated Nov 20, 2012 12:09PM Published Oct 26, 2012 07:25AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.