In Memoriam—Chris Lockwood

Christopher Lockwood, a University of California Observatories engineer for the past 10 years, died earlier this month. His family provided the campus with the following tribute:

Chris LockwoodChristopher Lockwood — a loving father, husband, son, brother, friend, and sailing and biking partner — died of a heart attack on Friday, February 4, 2011, in Santa Cruz. When he passed away, he was doing one of the things he loved: after making sure his children were at school, he rode his bike up the UCSC bike path. He was 49 years old.

Chris was a senior engineer at the University of California Observatories in Santa Cruz, where he made significant contributions to the advancement of science by designing unique tools for astronomers on the world’s largest telescopes. His designs are in use or development in some of the forefront instruments in the world, including two state-of-the-art adaptive optics systems at the Keck Observatory and Lick Observatory. Before coming to UCSC, he worked at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, and developed laboratory measurement capability for wind tunnel tests.

Chris was born in 1962 in San Luis Obispo, CA. He was raised in China Lake and Morro Bay, where he gained a passion for the desert and the ocean and all of their wildlife, particularly snakes and birds of prey. Growing up, he loved getting out on his own on a dirt bike — and being captain of his own 8-foot sailing ship. He graduated in 1988 from California Polytechnic State University with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He moved to Santa Cruz in 1999.

Chris was always at home on the water. At Cal Poly he was on the sailing team and he raced competitively throughout his life, including at Monterey Bay, San Francisco Bay, and his favorite, Huntington Lake in the Sierras, where he returned every year like a migrating bird for a week of camping and sailing. The weekend before his death, he raced in the annual "Three Bridge Fiasco" on San Francisco Bay, which he and his partner won for the Moore Division in 2002.

Chris was an Ultimate Frisbee player and all-round athlete. He was also an avid dirt biker. He loved traveling through open landscapes and observing the minute detail of a kestrel on a cactus or the shadow of a trout on a riverbed. In central Baja, Chris and his motorcycle buddies would whoop with delight as they glided along the high country ridges, swapping the lead and trading perfect arcing slides all the way to the fish camps at the coast, where lobster tacos and a few gallons of gas awaited. Sailing, surfing and bikes were all just a platform that allowed Chris to inhale the sights, smells and thoughts that come with the outdoors. He was always armed with a trusty octagonal coffee percolator, a frisbee and a warm, insightful smile.

With the birth of his children, Chris focused on being an outstanding father and husband, and he had a magnetic relationship with his children. He explored everything with them — whatever sparked their interest, from king snakes and motorcycle engines to books and bath time. His inquisitive spirit was contagious — his children ask all kinds of questions, for which he had endless patience. He was preparing to race with his son Logan this summer at Huntington Lake, in the boat that his parents had used to win every pickle dish west of the Rockies. He had just taught his daughter Chloe to ride a bike. He will be missed dearly by his loved ones and friends, and will remain in the hearts of all who knew him.

Chris is survived by his wife, Laurie Gabriel of Santa Cruz; his son, Logan Lockwood (age 7) and daughter Chloe Lockwood (age 4); his parents, Don and Kit Lockwood of Morro Bay; and his brother, Dan Lockwood, sister-in-law Kathleen, nephew Jaren, and niece Lane, of Park City, Utah.

A memorial celebration of Chris’s life for the UC Community will be held on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM in the UCSC Arboretum Conference Room.  Directions: 

All are invited, and we hope you will attend.  Parking is limited, so please car pool if you can. 

A memorial fund has been created for his young children. Please send contributions by check to: Chris Lockwood Memorial Fund, Santa Cruz County Bank, 720 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.