Like every human who’s ever lived, Chris Carlson couldn’t beat Death.
But he played that sucker to a stalemate for 13 years, and boy, did he get the most out of his time on Earth.
Back in March, leading up to what would be his last Easter, the former press secretary to the late Gov. Cecil Andrus and longtime Carlson Chronicle political columnist detailed his nine lives. He didn’t call them that but he wrote from memory about nine times he probably should have died — including being diagnosed with terminal cancer 13 years ago. Doctors had given him six months to live.
“I’m not dead yet 13 years later thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and the power of the many prayers said on my behalf by family, friends and myself,” wrote the devout Roman Catholic in March.
Carlson touched so many lives, left his indelible mark in so many Idaho arenas that it’s impossible to adequately summarize his life in a 370-word editorial tribute. So we’ll focus on what we loved and respected most about him.
Chris Carlson treated everyone fairly, which is no easy task when you run in the political circles he frequented. That didn’t mean he gave you an automatic pass. Carlson, a Democrat, went to his death bed urging Idahoans to support Republican Brad Little for governor. If he tested your mettle and found it wanting, he had the courage to say so and backed it up with sound reasoning.
But Chris isn’t leaving many enemies behind. The vast majority of those who disagreed with his politics agreed with the character of the man himself. Longtime Silver Valley journalist David Bond, a proud conservative, said this upon learning of Carlson’s death:
“Great guy,” Bond said. “A mentor and a friend regardless of party.” Bond noted that he and Carlson lunched monthly at the City Limits.
Carlson would somehow make time to touch base frequently with people around the state but most particularly in his beloved North Idaho, even long after illness had tried to slow him down. That’s because one of his greatest strengths was this: Chris Carlson gave a damn. He was relentless in his pursuit of improvement, starting with himself.