Downtown Grass Valley arch dedicated to Chris Stevens

Work is underway on Mill Street in the alley where the Chris Stevens Arch will be located. The dedication for the arch will be happening this Saturday, November 24 at 2 p.m.

J. Christopher “Chris” Stevens, died abroad in the service of his country. His service to the United States as a diplomat and public servant has been recognized worldwide.

Chris was a fourth generation Grass Valleyan. He loved Grass Valley and dreamed of retiring there. Chris’s service as U.S. Ambassador to Libya was a final assignment in a career dedicated to public service and fostering international understanding. After a stint in the Peace Corps in Morocco and a law practice based on international trade law, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya, where he was appointed U.S. Ambassador.

Chris took pains to learn the language of each country in which he served and relate to the people there. In turn, they responded warmly to his friendliness and lack of affectation. A his father said, “Chris was successful because he embodied the traits that have always endeared America to the world – a commitment to democratic principles and respect for others regardless of race, religion or culture.”

In a recent article in The New York Times author and columnist Roger Cohen wrote that Chris ranked among those in the State Department “for whom the word noble would not be displaced.” When Chris died in Libya, 30,000 Libyans took to the streets to mourn his loss and disarm those they believed were responsible for his death.Nations and individuals all over the world have expressed their respect for his work and achievements. Major institutions and organizations have taken steps to honor him.

Chris loved Grass Valley and his roots here are deep. He was born in Grass Valley and buried with his ancestors in the old cemetery. His gravesite is covered with flags and other tributes, mostly from people who didn’t know him but wanted to express their sympathy and gratitude for his work. Chris’s great great grandparents, miner William and wife Ann Stevens, emigrated from Cornwall. Their son, Chris’s great grandfather John James, also a miner, lived on Maiden Lane with his wife Anna. John worked in several mines including the Empire, Idaho Maryland and Rose Hill.

—Grass Valley Downtown Association

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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