San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Christopher “Chris” J.S. Emby
April 14, 2021
Christopher “Chris” Emby, a loyal friend, old-school romantic, CPA, and hedge fund auditor extraordinaire passed away at his home in San Francisco, California U.S.A. on 14 April 2021. For the previous four and a half months, he had stoically fought an intense battle against a rare and aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma: SCCB. He had recently celebrated his 61st birthday “COVID-style”, by wearing a double-layered face mask outside on his porch alongside his devoted wife and close friends. Christopher was born in 1960 in Vancouver, Canada. He was the son of an English father, the late Clifford Emby, and a Swedish-Canadian mother, the late Gloria Marie Emby (née Hissing) which made him thoroughly “Swenglishian”. His father died when he was 25 and he suddenly became the head of his household; he provided steady support to his family until his mother passed in 2018. He is survived by his lovingly light-hearted wife, Julia WB Emby (née Blagden), as well as his beloved Canadian aunts and cousins: Sylvia and Jonathan (Teresa Vargas) Anderson; Shirley, Nicholas (Sharon Patterson), and Verity Heap, and their respective families. He is survived by his endearing New England-based Blagden in-laws, with whom he loved to play games, sail, pick blueberries and eat lobster: his mother-in-law, Josephine “Jody”; brotherin-law, Tim (Kristen Riley); nephew, Tucker (Katie Palmer); niece, Margo (Scott Goodrich); nephew, Andrew; niece, Katherine, and two grandnieces, Jacqueline and Aubrielle (born 25 March, 2021). All the Blagden’s embraced his joie de vivre, his unique wit, and his genuine sense of self. Christopher told Aubrielle that he was giving her his place on the planet and wished her a happy life ahead when he was recently introduced to her on Zoom. He is also survived by a sibling, Francesca Marsh (née Emby) and two nephews, Justin and Jordan Marsh. In addition to his parents, his uncles John Bright, Geoffrey Heap and Bjorn Anderson predeceased him, as did his aunt, Joan Bright in England. From 2012-2020 Christopher and Julia managed his “Auntie Joan’s” care.
At the age of two, Christopher moved with his parents to San Francisco; when he was four, they moved to the lovely Olmsted Brothers designed neighborhood of St. Francis Wood, and into a 1918 house designed by Smith & Stewart. Christopher continued to live in the same home for 57 years and shared it with his same “Good Wifey” for 20 of them. He learned to swim at one of the largest outdoor (saltwater) swimming pools in the world – the Fleishhacker Pool. He attended Commodore Sloat Elementary School until the age of nine. Then, from age nine to 19, he attended British boarding schools for boys in Tiverton, with his English relatives nearby. His primary school, St. Michael’s School was in Tawstock Court. His secondary school, founded in 1604 was Blundell’s School (think: Hogwarts sans Quiddich). At Blundell’s he was called, “CJ” and was known for his knack for math as well as his natural and prized athletic abilities in swimming, cricket, 3rd XV rugby, fives, shot put, and the brutal Jack Russell cross-country race (named in honor of another school alumnus) run annually. He also served in the School’s Army Section of the Combined Cadet Force (think: Outward Bound and Boy Scouts with guns), and trekked across windswept Dartmoor, as part of his school’s Victorian concept of “character building.” At age 17, he returned home for a semester to treat and conquer a serious health condition; he learned from all those challenging experiences that each moment of his life was a gift that should not be wasted.
Throughout his formative years – with one foot in the UK and the other in the US – Chris toned his unique sense of humor that would support him for the rest of his life. Upon his return to Blundell’s, he was the mastermind of a spectacular prank now revealed: in 1979, the dour headmaster had forbidden practical jokes (something to do with cars on the cricket pitch). Undeterred, “CJ” and Roger Brady (and others who are still living) took advantage one night of a recent delivery of turf meant for the school’s cricket pitch. Brilliantly conspiring with creative precision and glee, the crew ‘borrowed’ the sod, and prepared a perfectly lined, Wimbledon regulation tennis court – complete with net and rackets – in front the school’s Great War Memorial. The next morning, the headmaster clapped at this clever, non-destructive design; the school masters were left mystified, and the schoolboys became instant legends. Emby graduated with “A” Levels from Blundell’s in 1979 and immediately became a member of the esteemed, Old Blundellian (O.B.) alumni network. He never forgot a fellow O.B., and in 2019 he visited Roger Brady in Houston, Texas just before Roger passed from cancer. During that surprise visit, “CJ” wore his 3rd XV socks and raised everyone’s spirits in his own inimitable fashion; he was a true friend to the end.
In 1983 Chris graduated magna cum laude and second in his class at University of San Francisco (USF) with a B.S. in Business Administration and a concentration in accounting. He also worked three part-time jobs to put himself through college.
Chris and Julia met in 1999 and formally melded their lives in October 2003 at their wonderfully festive wedding at The Olympic Club, Lakeside in San Francisco. Theirs was a marriage filled with gardening gloves, bathing suits, swim fins and travel tickets. They fed their curiosity by continually exploring the world, its gardens, beaches, and bodies of water together; their combined network of intriguing and talented friends spanned the globe and brought them immense joy. For 21 years, they double dated with Lynne Moore and Pete Patterson on Valentine’s Day, at a different fine Bay Area restaurant each year. Fabulous family friends, Tony Damato and the late Skip Miller, as well as his late Uncle John and his late father-in-law, George Blagden were his closest and dependable mentors. His cousin, Jonathan Anderson and best friends, Leon Chin, Pete Patterson and Barry Baltor were like brothers to him; his long-term friend and fellow Partner at EisnerAmper, Courtney Gordon Alexanderson was also like family.
Two weeks before he died, Chris’ former E&Y colleagues created a touching video of pastimes for him, and then joined him for an impromptu early retirement party to reflect on and toast his 37-year career. He had spent those years auditing domestic and offshore hedge funds; private equity firms; venture capital companies; commodity pools, and investment advisors at the accounting firms of Arthur Young; Spicer & Oppenheim; Coopers & Lybrand; Ernst & Young (E&Y); Harb, Levy & Weiland, and lastly, EisnerAmper LLP (EA) where he was an Audit Partner in the Financial Services Group. His audit teams at EA included a large and talented pool of accountants in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Mumbai – many of whom he helped to recruit, hire, and mentor on-site. He had the good fortune to gain valuable experience and wisdom within his dynamic industry, and his clients declared him as being one of the best hedge fund auditors as well as one of the most trusted and reliable guys in the profession.
Chris was a Certified CPA through the California Board of Accountancy. He was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA) where he formerly served as Chairman of their Securities Industry Committee. He was a supporter of the British-American Business Council of Northern California and a Director of Friends of Blundell’s in America. For 35 years he was a member of The Olympic Club as well as a past member of its Audit Committee.
Beyond his work, Chris’ interests and activities involved: world-travel; gardening with a penchant for roses; a myriad of water sports including SCUBA diving, boogie-boarding, and water skiing; kite flying; fireworks; magic; art; theater; science fiction; classic cars; female vocal artists; uplifting movies; poker; ice cream; SF 49er football games; the Super Bowl, and the Olympic Games. He relaxed watching British and American TV mysteries, comedies, and game shows. He took great pleasure in his recurring trips to Devon and Dorset, England; B.C., Canada; Oahu, Kona and Maui, Hawai’i; Blue Hill, Maine; Manchester by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and Las Vegas, Nevada with his fun-loving wife, friends, and family. He and Julia also supported many charitable organizations including: The American Cancer Society (https://www.cancer.org); Earthwatch (https://www. earthwatch.org); Hedge Funds Care (https://online. hedgefundscare.org); KQED TV and Radio (https://www. kqed.org); The Oak Hill School of California (https:// www.theoakhillschool.org); The Olympic Club Foundation (https://www.olympicclubfoundation.org), and Sneha Cares (https://www. snehacares.org). Those wishing to honor Chris’ memory may donate to any of these causes or a charity of your choice; he would be so pleased.
Chris was cremated with his beloved formal Blundell’s Colour Jacket with its red and white shield crest coat of arms and embroidered school motto: Pro Patria Populoque. A private service – with his favorite hymn, Jerusalem and the Frank Ticheli song, Earth Song recorded by VOCES8 – will be held for him at his request, and his cremains and rose petals will be scattered at Battery Spencer in Sausalito, overlooking the Golden Gate bridge where he proposed to Julia. It was his wish that each person close to his heart would honor him according to their own beliefs. A bright and colorful Celebration of Life will also take place in his honor, at a time and place to be announced, as soon as COVID conditions have improved. Chris will be remembered for his playful quirkiness; his never-ending optimism; his ease in making people laugh; the gleam in his eye; his generosity and dedication to family, friends, coworkers, and clients; his mentoring of new hires; his colorful clothes; his offers to take people to lunch; his water-skiing outings on Lake Berryessa; his Novato roses; his Super Bowl parties; his full English breakfasts, and his cherished afternoon “cuppa tea”.
On behalf of both Christopher and herself, Julia Emby wishes to thank some special individuals and groups for their encouragement, love and support during the past few months: Leon and Phyllis Chin; Courtney and Christian Alexanderson; Shiela Winchester; Pam Merser; Pam Silvaroli; Pete Patterson and Lynne Moore; Jackie and Chris Ikehara; the Blagden and Magnano families; John and Cathy Yee; Joanne Tanverakul; Paula Mandel; Erin Thacker; Lisa and Terry Tuscher; Laura and James Ward; Barry Baltor; Leo Chin; Brian Brady; Barb Clarey, and Sue Kanke. Additional munificence came from a great many neighbors, friends, and members of Chris’ E&Y and EA “work-families”. The entire medical teams at Mission Bay’s UCSF Genitourinary Medical Oncology Clinic, SMS, and Cancer Acute Care Clinic, as well as Hospice by the Bay gave care with compassion to Chris and Julia throughout this sudden and untimely ordeal; this was especially challenging under all the added constraints of COVID-19. May Christopher J.S. Emby rest in eternal peace as he so justly deserves. He was indeed a brave soul.