I found out last week that Christopher Righter was moved into a Hospice facility and then died after his short battle with cancer.
It is hard to put into words what it means to lose a mentor to you when you are a young person starting out. Chris was part of the search committee when I was hired, my first Green Chairman and before my first year was through the President, which he remained for the first 10 years of my career. We seemed to get along right from the start. For anyone who knew Chris he could be a stern taskmaster. As a retired career military man it was part of his nature. We were under a master plan of renovations in those early years and it seemed as if we were tearing up the course all the time. There were lots of decisions to be made and many of them were done over the phone since it was the off-season and he was living in Winchester. He had a lot of faith in me and I worked hard not to let him down. I would be lying if I said it was all wine and roses but we both knew when it made sense to give in and our goals of improving the course were aligned. He will certainly never be forgotten and surely missed.
Some of my favorite memories started right in the beginning. I drove to a hotel in Braintree for the first interview. It started with pleasant conversation between me and then President Carl Barrie. Carl went to URI and was from Rhode Island so we were chatting up a storm. Chris ever the disciplinarian started scolding Carl to try and get us on schedule. A brief exchange ensued and we eventually completed the interview. I saw a classmate in the lobby and he asked how did it go? I said "you can have it Joe those guys are nuts. They were actually yelling at each other." We ended up being the finalists. The interview was actually very professional and smoothly run once we were back on tract, thanks to Chris. Another memory is of the two phone calls I made to get approval for improvements to the maintenance facility. The first for a hot water heater. He did not understand the need until I told him with a few profanities tossed in that the snow I just used to rinse my hands with was warmer than the water coming through the tap. The other was when I moved my office to the attic space above the shop and wanted an air conditioner. Chris was old school Vineyard and said "it's Martha's Vineyard you don't need air conditioning" but after a bit of convincing acquiesced. That story reminded me of another while in the original negotiations. I had come from a club where we plowed 60-80" of snow a year so knew how much time it took. When I asked about snow removal Chris said "it never snows on MV and if it does it melts quickly." The records broken last year for snow totals were set that first Winter on MV. Glad I was not in charge of snow removal then. At least now we have more staff and the equipment to deal with it. Chris was instrumental in getting those improvements.
Looking back on those early years it seems as if the improvements to Mink Meadows were easy. They were not but we were so simple and far behind the times any improvement made seemed to make a huge difference. Together we made the place better. Chris set a high standard and made everyone around him rise to that standard. I will always cherish the freedom he gave me to learn and hone my craft. He gave me enough room to fail but enough guidance to succeed.
Obituary Chris Righter