In Memoriam: Crister Garrett

Crister S. Garrett, 56, passed away at his home in Leipzig Germany on March 6, 2019 after a courageous two year battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Claudia, daughters Kajsa and Sanna, mother Marta, sister Karolina, and brother Eric.

Born in New York, Crister spent four years of his early life in Beirut Lebanon before moving to Monterey California with his family in 1972. He graduated from Monterey High School in 1980 before attending UC Santa Barbara where he earned his bachelors degree. After earning his BA, home was calling so Crister returned to Monterey to attend the then Monterey Institute of International Studies where he earned his Masters degree in International Policy Studies in 1987. His father, Stephen A Garrett, was a well known professor in the same department at MIIS for 39 years so Crister already had deep ties to the school.

Indeed, after earning his PhD at UCLA, Crister returned to the Monterey Institute and worked as an adjunct professor from 1998-99. Crister’s relationship with MIIS continued to as recently as 2016 when he served as a guest lecturer.

Said former MIIS director of alumni relations regarding Crister, “Crister represented the true spirit of a MIIS alumnus. His commitment to international education and engagement, his personal achievements- Bosch and Fulbright awards, among others- living and working in a number of countries and acquiring languages along the way all demonstrated that. The fact that Crister shared and hopefully instilled that same spirit and desire for adventure and learning in generations of students will be his legacy in academia.”

The legacy in academia which Crister leaves is certainly not limited to MIIS alumnus. Crister had been a professor in the American Studies Department at the University of Leipzig in Germany since 2005 right up until he passed. Countless notes left on a message board by former students and colleagues in Leipzig describe Crister as highly intelligent, inspirational, empathetic, humorous, a brilliant teacher, and a driving force in their own academic and professional achievements. Many students stated how Crister would beam with pride as they achieved their own successes.

Crister’s area of expertise in Leipzig was American foreign policy and transatlantic relationships between Europe and the US. Because of his expertise, he was a regular fixture in German media. He was also a driving force behind American Space Leipzig, a university affiliated organization focused on promoting and supporting German-American relations. A statement from the University of Leipzig said of Crister, “his optimism, his energy, and his friendly and cheerful nature made him a well respected and popular colleague throughout the faculty.”

While Crister’s professional career was a source of great pride and passion for him, he was at heart a family man. He reaped the most joy when spending time with his wife and daughters traveling through Europe or America, or just enjoying a leisurely Sunday at home. He also cherished his trips home to Monterey which he always felt a deep connection with. He often marveled at the beauty of the Monterey peninsula and how he was so lucky to grow up in such a special place. He always cherished the time he got to spend with his parents and siblings in Monterey for family reunions. He was passionate about food and was known for his expert barbecue skills. He always enjoyed a good science fiction movie or book.

He had a love for sports and was always torn between rooting for the 49ers or the Packers, whom he became a fan of after spending several years teaching and living in Wisconsin. He enjoyed a good game of golf, although unlike his barbecue skills and his academics, this was definitely not his area of expertise. He loved to travel and explore different cultures. Being of Swedish descent, he and his family would make yearly pilgrimages to southern Sweden to visit family.

Crister was a genuinely special human being and brought endless joy to those related to him, his countless friends around the world, and to those who just crossed paths with him. He left us much too soon and will be dearly missed. To those of us who knew him though, it was a genuine blessing having him in our lives for the time he was here. He will remain forever in our hearts and will continue to have a positive impact on many lives.

To honor Crister’s legacy his wife and daughters have set up the Crister Stephen Garrett Scholarship for students at the University of Leipzig, and is accepting donations through GoFundMe- Crister Garrett.