Christopher William Holt passed peacefully from this world early in the morning of October 30, 2016 in his home in Seattle, with his wife, Kay Mok and older sister, Cristina Holt by his side. During his last hours, Kay read their vows from a year before and sang to Christopher while holding his hand.
Chris, known as Christopher by his family and cwh by many of his friends and colleagues, was born on August 2nd, 1983 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He was the second child and only son of Maria Amor and William Holt. At his birth, Chris weighed in at 10 pounds, which his older sister Cristina theorized as preparation for Chris to be the perfect size for “optimal hug giving”. Chris was 33 years of age at the time of his passing.
Christopher attended the Grove School in Connecticut and matriculated at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In 2006, Chris began working in New York City to pursue his career as a systems administrator at M5 Networks in Chelsea. Later, Chris joined a social gaming startup called OMGPOP, almost single-handedly helping them scale their hit game, Draw Something, from a couple users to hundreds of millions over the course of mere weeks.
Not only did his career growth happen at OMGPOP, it was also the place where Chris would meet Kay, the woman who would later become his wife in a small ceremony with family at his friend Henning’s family home on Bainbridge Island outside of Seattle on November 18, 2015. Their story began in March 2011 because of Kay’s imminent study abroad trip to Spain, where Christopher’s family is from. When Kay returned from Spain that summer, they started to roam the streets of New York together.
Chris’s dedication to his career was well-rewarded, and set him on a path to leave New York in late 2012 to move to Chicago as Chief Technology Officer of Picturelife, a mobile photo storage and sharing startup. As Picturelife grew in popularity, Chris and his team were invited by Facebook and Amazon to visit their respective headquarters. Amazon was so impressed by Chris’s talents and the Picturelife gang that they offered positions to the team. To give you a little perspective, Chris was visiting and impressing tech titans *after* surgery on the brain tumor that he had been battling since late 2013. His mental talents, pre, post, and during cancer, were simply remarkable.
Chris and Kay moved from New York to Seattle together in December 2014. Chris began work as an Engineering Manager at Amazon, bought a home with Kay, and wholeheartedly explored and enjoyed the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest until the day of his passing. His favorite band was Sigur Rós, who he would faithfully follow anytime they were within striking distance, until recently, when the tables were turned and Sigur Rós visited Chris in Seattle, thanks to the generosity and machinations of Henning. He loved exploring new places, red wines, and effortlessly making deep mental and emotional connections with the people he met.
Chris’s life, abbreviated by cancer, was neither short nor tragic. While it is true that he is survived by his wife, Kay, his older sister Cristina, his younger sister Marisa, his mother Maria, his father Bill, and his stepfather Gary, and close friends too numerous to mention, the generosity, vigor, and passion with with he lived his life stood as an independent and powerful story for those lucky enough to talk to him, watch him be himself, laugh with his incisive wit, listen to his ideas, or feel his extraordinarily warm embrace. He leaves not a legacy of a life taken away too soon from those who loved him, but a gift to those who had the privilege of calling him a husband, friend, brother, son, employee, colleague, sommelier, leader, roommate, mentor, LP, companion, fan, acquaintance, or follower. Chris filled many roles to many people, but the single common thread among those diverse roles is that he always insisted on giving more than he took, with the kind of maturity and silent grace that made the receiver of his generosity feel nothing but a quiet awe and a small whisper of wanting to, in their own unique way, be a little more like Chris. While we all will miss Chris dearly, we all carry parts of him onward in the form of that same little whisper that wordlessly nudges us to be bigger, better, more passionate and more generous each day of our lives. For that, we owe Chris our humble gratitude.