Christopher “Chappy” Chapman
Christopher “Chappy” Chapman
Sept. 11, 1963 – April 25, 2020
Chappy was born in Burlingame, California to MaryAnn and Jim Chapman. From the start he was an athletic, driven and adventurous child. As a young man he loved baseball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, water skiing, golf and road biking. Chappy loved time with family and friends, his circle never wavered. Chappy attended countless concerts and was drawn to live music. He also had a passion for photography, documenting his many travels and excursions.
By the time he was entering adulthood, Chappy was battling Hodgkins Lymphoma. He won. The battle sparked a lust for life unlike any other. Chappy’s second chance was about to begin.
In 1983 Chappy moved to Whitefish and immediately fell in love. He started by working at Jimmy Lee’s, then for almost four decades greeted patrons of Whitefish’s favorite watering holes: The Palace, Truby’s, The Great Northern Bar and Whitefish Lake Lodge. Chappy often said that he loved bartending because he was able to hang out with vacationers having fun and help make their visit memorable. Being the “Ambassador and Tour Guide” of the Flathead Valley, if visitors to Whitefish were lucky enough to encounter Chappy, they would soon have the pleasure of learning the greatest places to go and the Flathead’s best kept secrets. He was also known for his plethora of jokes, good and bad.
Chappy’s professional life allowed him to play all day. Chappy declined the label “ski bum” and had been quoted proclaiming himself a “ski enthusiast.” Chappy would proceed to ski almost every day of every ski season for the next 30 years. In 2003, Big Mountain began tracking vertical feet skied by pass holders. That season, Chappy recorded over 5 million vertical feet of skiing. It would be 10 seasons until anyone surpassed that. Chappy was an avid hiker, tackling multiple peaks in Glacier National Park every summer. He also had a passion for rafting and mountain biking. Chappy floated amongst icebergs in Alaska, ran the lava falls in the Grand Canyon and floated a multitude of trips down the Salmon and Snake rivers. He truly enjoyed taking people from strangers to loved ones floating on any fork of the Flathead River.
On his bicycle, a sweaty Chappy found himself in Lynnett Gobel’s neighborhood, stopping by often just to say “hi.” A pretty Dutch girl had smitten Chappy. Their first date was a hike to the top of Scenic Point in Glacier National Park. Lynnett already had a man in her life, seven-year-old Skylar. Chappy’s kindness, charm and beautiful, fun-loving character won Lynnett’s heart. A family was formed. Chappy became an amazing husband and father. Because of Chappy’s influence, Skylar grew to be an avid outdoorsman and photographer. Years into their relationship and with Chappy’s support, Lynnett accomplished her nursing degree. This ultimately contributed to his comfort and care in the latter part of his life. Their great love lasted 23 years.
Chappy is survived by Lynnett, Skylar and three beloved dogs Ginger, Pepper and Curry. Chappy is also survived by his granddaughter Sienna Koepke, his mother MaryAnn Chapman, his sister Cheryl (Darrell) Plusch, brother Jeff Chapman and his nephew Ryan Plusch. Chappy is preceded in death by father James Chapman, grandmother Billie Smith and nephew Christopher Plusch.
Chappy never met a stranger. People from far and wide gravitated to Chappy’s joyful, grateful spirit. Chappy’s favorite motto was: “You can sleep when you’re dead.” In his final days, Chappy stated to his wife, “I’m still having fun.”
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Big Mountain Ski Club, P.O. Box 1614, Whitefish, MT 59937 or DREAM Adaptive at https://www.dreamadaptive.org/donate/
A celebration of Chappy’s life will be held when everyone can get together. Please visit Chappy’s online memorial tribute at www.austinfh.com to share condolences, stories and photo’s with the family. Austin Funeral and Cremation Services in Whitefish is caring for Chappy’s family.