Beloved husband, son, stepfather and friend to all, Christophe Bertrand Elise, ascended to Heaven on May 14th, 2023.
Christophe (“Chris”) was born on June 26th, 1971, in the town of Tours, France, to Sylvie Dupont and Henri Elise. He was their beloved only child and the beloved grandson of Renee and Pierre-Henri Dupont.
Chris grew up in Tours, where he excelled in school and sports, primarily soccer. He was a voracious reader, played roleplaying games and was a serious Trekker who spoke Klingon (a fact that was kept from his wife, Gigi, until after they were married.) ☺
Chris attended Lycee Grandmont then joined the Special Forces to become a paratrooper. He always maintained a great respect for those who served and had many friends to this day in the military.
Later, Chris earned a university degree in history and a degree in computers and technology.
After his service and graduating university, he worked as a journalist specializing in information technology, traveling all over the world – from Senegal to the United States, from China to Russia, to interview CEOs and various technology executives. He hoped to one day move full time to the United States.
Chris then fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a sports photographer, photographing professional baseball players in France, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, amongst other nations. His ultimate goal of becoming an NBA photographer came true after moving to Boston and staying on his friend’s couch while photographing the Boston Celtics from the floor of TD Garden, his favorite of all basketball arenas.
Later, another miracle - he had a chance to move to Chicago where he photographed his beloved Chicago Bulls at the stadium where Michael Jordan first captured his imagination as a boy in an apartment in Tours, France. Young Chris would rise at 4:00 in the morning to watch Michael Jordan soar and Scottie Pippen run defense.
His photographs have appeared in such publications as Reverse Magazine and Basket USA and continue to be in high demand internationally.
Chris again followed his dream to Santa Monica to cover the LA Lakers and Clippers; he met his wife Gigi at a Clippers game in Los Angeles, and went out for coffee six months later, after her father had passed. An immediate bond was struck. In the Jewish religion, it’s called “bashert” or soulmate. It was destiny.
A few months later, he met the boys he considered his sons, Thomas and Patrick Grazer, and together they became the LGE, for Levangie Grazer Elise. Chris labeled everything with the LGE logo – his ranch, his truck, his caps, his arm.
In addition, it was his love for America, and his belief in the American Dream that defined Chris as a man. At an early age, he watched cowboy Westerns on television with his beloved grandfather, and the seeds of fascination with Western culture, specifically cowboy culture, were planted in his young head.
One of his favorite photos of himself (and if you knew him, there were many ☺) was of him as a child, wearing a red cowboy hat and holster, pointing a silver toy gun at the camera, with his huge signature smile on his face.
He followed his love of all things American West to cover the PBR, driving from Utah to South Dakota on a winter’s day to photograph the true athletes, the cowboys, the rodeo clowns, the bulls. He loved everything about the PBR – and it shows in his breathtaking, epic photo collection.
Chris loved American music - Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, George Strait, Outlaw Country. Both Miles and Waylon Jennings enjoyed space on his arms in the form of tattoos. As did the Betsy Ross flag.
He loved the American landscape – he loved taking road trips, from Utah and Idaho to South Dakota, from Texas to Tennessee. He loved driving to New York to see his sons, Thomas in Manhattan starting out his career, and Patrick at West Point.
It was with immense pride that Chris became an American citizen in 2021. He loved his adopted country with a great passion and never took her for granted. On his first week as a new homeowner in Tennessee, he had a big flagpole planted and hoisted the American and Tennessee flags.
Most of all, Chris was defined by the love of family. He called his mother, Sylvie, and 94-year-old grandmother, Renee, every single morning, with the refrain, “Bonjour Mamie, c’est moi, Titi!” He never missed a day.
His boys, Thomas and Patrick Grazer, meant the world and a half to him. He entered their lives at the ages of 10 and 13, and quickly became a role model, a best friend, and an example of how to live and how to treat people, especially their mother. He loved being a father – he drove them in his red Mustang, and later his Chevelle SS and Superbee to school, baseball, basketball, football and lacrosse games and practices. He was there to listen, to give advice, to maybe talk too long about the significance of French rap (which they both love, now). There was nothing he wouldn’t do for those boys, and they knew it – and still know it, to their core.
And he couldn’t have been prouder of the men they were becoming.
Chris’s light and spirit filled every room and arena he stepped into with his Converse or Luccheses (and later, his work boots). He was beloved by people all over the world – he was a friend to everyone he met, from street people to captains of industry, from old folks to babies, for whom he’d shake his big afro and make them laugh with delight.
Even animals loved him and were drawn to him, not least of all his beloved Gus and Dixie, who now look for him throughout the house, under the bed, on the land that he so loved and where he walked them every day, for miles.
It is with great happiness that Chris was baptized this year at Church of the City in Franklin, Tennessee.
Chris passed on – he “graduated” – at the peak of his joy. He is preceded in his Heavenly birthday by his father, Henri, his grandfather, Pierre-Henri, his Uncle Claude and his Uncle Bertrand. Chris is survived by his wife, Gigi, his mother, Sylvie, his grandmother, Renee, and his sons, Thomas and Patrick.
Funeral Services will be conducted on Saturday, May 27th at 2:00 PM at Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home with Pastor Jonathan Pitts officiating. The family will visit with friends on Saturday from 1:00 PM until service time at Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home. A private burial will take place following the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Chris’ honor to The Gary Sinise Foundation, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and K9s for Warriors.
Active pallbearers include Jake Way, Randy Clark, Shane Stephens, Loic Philat, Shawn Cordon, Devin Semler, John Catalodo, and Mark Macgregor. Honorary pallbearers include Thomas Grazer, Patrick Grazer, Frankie Levangie, Jonathan Levangie, Jerome Desvouges, Nick Searcy, Rick Barr, Damon Perez, Joseph Krueger, Matt Gilder, John Hicks, Gabriel Clark, Dave Gomez, Andre Costa, Lionel Hahn, Roland Pilot, Joe Roddy, Matthew Wilder, Mathieu Zagrodzki, Lior Zohar, Jimmy Thomas, and Tyler Thomas.