‘Truly going to be missed’: Chris Wurster remembered as a friend, family man
Chris Wurster loved working as a firefighter.
He loved working on cars, motorcycles, and general repair work around the house. He also loved doing work to help out his friends, going on spontaneous vacations, and playing pickup basketball.
But far and away, the loves of Wurster’s life were his wife Krystle, his 4-year-old daughter Lola, and and his 7-month-old son Max.
According to friend and fellow firefighter, Matt Erdman, Wurster was someone who never forgot what was most precious in his life.
“The saying of Chris’s that sticks out in my mind…he would just say that those things, the work he loved, the stuff that needed to be done around the house, riding dirt bikes, fixing cars … ’all of that stuff will be there the next day’ — he’d say — ‘But you or your family might not be.’”
Chris Andre Wurster died June 26 from terminal cancer. He was 41.
Chris grew up in Lancaster. He knew he wanted to be a firefighter even from a young age, said family friend Natalie Watkins, but first started his career as a mechanic, developing his passion for working on motorcycles. Chris was extremely industrious and always eager to lend a hand to any kind of mechanical or engineering problem that presented itself, said Tiaona Delong, Chris’s sister-in-law.
“If you didn’t know how to put it together, he did,” she said.
Erdman recalled how he and Chris became friends riding dirt bikes and playing basketball together, but most of all the two men bonded over their mutual love for hands-on work, he said.
“Chris was a very mechanical person…he worked on motorcycles, I worked on cars, so we had that bond,” Erdman explained. “We could talk for hours about building stuff…friends bond over different work, for us it was about finding those commonalities that made us close.”
After studying at Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Florida for several years, Chris ultimately returned to California, working for a motorcycle shop for a couple of years before meeting his wife Krystle in San Diego in 2002.
“She was his life,” Delong said of the pair, adding that Chris’ undivided dedication to his wife made a lasting impression on both their families. Delong is Krystle’s sister.
“He always called her his lady, it was that kind of love…he really taught me how to love with how he treated my sister,” she added.
In 2007, Chris and Krystle moved to Marysville, where Chris began working as a resident volunteer for Marysville Fire/Cal Fire, and in 2008 he was hired full time for Cal Fire’s station 42 in North San Juan, where he first met Erdman. In 2013, Chris and Krystle moved to Nevada City, and just a couple of years later the pair welcomed a third family member — their daughter Lola.
Chris maintained a profound level of balance in his life, leading the way among colleagues with his exceptional work ethic, and remaining a respected member of his community — all while never failing to keep his family as the number one priority, Erdman said.
“He had such a commitment to his job, but also a real commitment to his people and his friends, all those around him…he managed everything he needed to do, but family and friends were always more important.”
At no time was Chris’ remarkable dedication to his family more evident than toward the end of his life, Delong said.
Extremely weakened by his battle with cancer, Chris eventually slipped into a coma shortly before his death.
“In those final moments before he fell into that coma, he talked to my sister…he told her ‘I used to say that we’re counting the days or weeks that we have together in life, but now we’re counting the hours’…he encouraged us to live every hour of life to the fullest, not to worry about the small stuff,” Delong recalled of Chris’ final days with his family.
“He talked about how it’s nice to have the best car or the best motorcycle or whatever, it’s great to have goals, but that’s not what you ultimately live for.”
Those last conversations Chris had with Krystle were reflective of his overall, people-oriented life approach that Delong said she noticed from first meeting him.
“When Chris and Krystle first moved up here to Nevada City, he and I became really close, we had a great relationship…it was never like he was my brother-in-law, he was just my brother.”
“It was almost like he always knew what somebody needed when they needed it, whether a laugh or a smile, or a pep talk about life, he was there to give that, too…he had this way of living life to the fullest, both before and after his diagnosis.”
A GoFundMe has been set up on the Wurster family’s behalf, Watkins said, expressing the profound burden placed on Krystle’s shoulders after her husband’s death, both emotionally and financially.
“(Chris) gave so much to this community through his work and his genuine love of helping others…this community can now give back to help this family with the cost of getting back on their feet by donating to their GoFundMe,” Watkins said.
Erdman said that he was confident that the community would rally around the Wurster family, emphasizing the extraordinary support network of family and friends that Chris left behind.
“There’s so much stuff you can remember about Chris. At the end of the day he’s just one of those people that’s truly going to be missed…It’s really important that over the years, his family and friends get to share things with his son as he grows, and that people make sure that this family has the support and love that they need.”
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
To support the Wursters, a GoFundMe has been set up on their behalf. To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com and search “Chris Wurster.” The campaign is titled “Help Krystle and children survive the loss of Dad.” The campaign organizer is Kevin Storkan, and the GoFundMe’s listed beneficiary is Krystle Wurster
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