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Popular Air Academy high teacher killed by lightning

By: MARIA ST.LOUIS-SANCHEZ
July 17, 2011
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photo - Air Academy history teacher Rob Christopher died July 12 from a lightning strike while on a camping trip. He was teaching an honors U.S. history on Thursday, August 27, 2010. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) Photo by JERILEE BENNETT,  THE GAZETTE
Air Academy history teacher Rob Christopher died July 12 from a lightning strike while on a camping trip. He was teaching an honors U.S. history on Thursday, August 27, 2010. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

A popular social studies teacher and historian is being mourned by students and staff at Air Academy High School after his sudden death.

Rob Christopher, who has been a teacher at the school for 11 years, died July 12 from a lightning strike while on a camping trip in Arizona.

Air Academy principal Toria McGill sent an email to the Air Academy community Saturday night. She said a Facebook page, RIP Rob Christopher, has been set up for students and friends to share their thoughts on Christopher.

“Students are sharing lovely memories of an excellent teacher, coach and mentor who nurtured a love of learning in so many students,” McGill wrote. She said Sunday she learned of Christopher’s death when his wife contacted a staff member. She declined to comment further on Christopher.

By Sunday afternoon, the page had more than 100 comments on it.

“Mr. Christopher, You were always my favorite teacher,” wrote his former student Bradley Chiga. “Your passion for teaching was truly inspirational. I will always remember the way you supported us, your students, your friends. Thank you for everything you did for me. I will always remember you. Rest in Peace.”

Kristine Helena, another Facebook poster agreed.

“Mr. Christopher was a rare type of teacher, teaching was more than just a job for him, he went out of his way to help his students to actually learn something and the importance of history. He was a great man and treated people as his equal and with respect, a hard thing to do when teaching high schoolers. He will be dearly missed by those who knew him, may he rest in peace.”

Christopher was a teacher for 19 years, spending 11 of those years at Air Academy. He taught AP government, U.S. history and honors U.S. history.

Along with teaching, Chrisopher was also an historian. (See a story the Gazette wrote about Christopher on Aug. 2010.) He was tapped to be the education consultant to the Naval Historical Foundation for a Cold War Gallery under development. His volunteer role was to create materials for teachers and students for use at the museum and online.

Christopher also created a foundation to find the remains of the first USS Arizona, a Civil War gunboat that sank in the Mississippi River supposedly in an accidental fire. He had read a mention of the boat in the library at Arizona State University, and there was so little information that he started his own research. He found the remains of the boat in 2001.

He has a master’s degree in military history from Norwich University in Vermont and was working on his doctorate from Exeter University in England, focusing on clandestine Confederate operations against Union ships.

Services for Christopher will be July 25 in Castle Rock, and the details will be announced later this week.

Principal McGill said the school is setting up a scholarship fund in Christopher’s memory.

Gazette reporter Kristina Iodice contributed to this report.


UPDATE

Memorial services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Calvary Chapel, 1100 Caprice Drive in Castle Rock. Doors open at 2 p.m.

 

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