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Calvin Locke Chrisman, 71, died peacefully at his beloved Dill Knob home high in the North Carolina mountains on Wednesday, January 31. From Wall Street to community service to running, Cal found success on many levels; however, his greatest joy and delight was his family: Elisabeth Alexander Robinson “Lisbet,” his loving wife of 47 years; his children and their spouses Alexander Locke “Alex” Chrisman (Jill Garraway) and Mary Chrisman “May” Nixon (Frederick Houghton); and grandchildren to whom Cal will always be “GoDaddy” Aiden Locke and Mia Elisabeth Chrisman and Calvin McLean “Mac” Nixon. He is also survived by family pets Timber, Bonnie and Ranger.
Cal was born in Charlotte on May 7, 1947. He attended Duke University on a Naval ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in accounting and serving as president of Sigma Chi fraternity. Following graduation from Duke in 1969, Cal served in the Navy in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and Washington, D.C. Years later Cal would comment that his laptop had more storage than a room full of computers in the Philippines.
Cal then earned an MBA in finance from Harvard University and went to work for Kidder, Peabody, where he became a managing director. He and Lisbet settled in Bronxville, N.Y., with their growing family and made cherished lifelong friends. Cal was very involved with Alex’s Boy Scout troop, going on countless trips, including the three-week Philmont trek. He coached May’s softball team, as well as other sports teams for the children. Mets’ games, including the 1986 World Series, became a family activity, as well as ski trips out West and vacations to Pawleys Island. Cal was an avid runner, twice completing the New York marathon with Lisbet, Alex and May cheering him on!
In the spring of 1988, Cal was diagnosed with Hodgkins’ lymphoma. Following surgery and radiation, he returned to life with renewed vigor. He served as president of the Bronxville School Board and had the privilege of handing his children their high school diplomas. Cal furthered a lifelong interest in astronomy, occasionally waking Lisbet at 3 a.m. to get in the car and go see a special constellation. Turning on the lights on these occasions was discouraged, as Cal wanted to preserve their “night vision.”
In 1995, Cal joined Brenner Securities as a managing director and became head of Brenner’s investment banking department in 1998. Later business ventures included Nextbridge Capital Markets, AirTV Limited and consulting work.
Cal’s greatest negotiation, however, may have been the purchase of land atop Dill Knob near Black Mountain, N.C., where his family always summered. It was at Dill that Cal got to combine his interest in science, installing a geothermal heating/cooling unit, as well as his love of astronomy, setting up the Dill Knob Observatory. Cal and Lisbet opened their home to local stargazers, especially when the planets and stars were putting on a show.
While living in Bronxville, Cal served on the session of the Reformed Church of Bronxville. Following a move to Black Mountain in 2008, he and Lisbet joined Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder. Cal always had a heart for the downtrodden, working on numerous Habitat for Humanity houses, including one in Guatemala. He loved to read, primarily science, history and biographies: the thicker the book the better.
Cal was predeceased by his parents, Alice and Aubrey. He is survived by two brothers and their spouses: Jack (Donna) and Mason (Jane) and their children.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m. at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church., 117 Montreat Road, Black Mountain, N.C., 28711. Interment will be at Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte at a later date. Donations may be made to Black Mountain Presbyterian Church at the same address. Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Chrisman family.