Crispin (Cris) Garcia Jr. died on Thursday, January 9, at home in North Prairie, WI, surrounded by the love of family and friends. He was 74.
Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the firstborn son of Crispin Sr. and Sara (Cruz), Cris grew up in Racine, WI and attended Hansche Grade School, Mitchell Middle School, and Washington Park High School, where he kept his classmates laughing as the class clown.
Shortly after high school in 1963, Cris entered the US Air Force and trained as a weather observer at K.I. Sawyer AFB in Marquette County, MI. He served in South Vietnam from 1966-67 where he was attached to the US Army’s 1st Air Cavalry in the Central Highlands, monitoring weather at bases in An Khe and landing zones in Bong Son. In November of 1967, Cris was honorably discharged with an Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service, a National Defense Service Medal, and Vietnam Service / Campaign Medals.
In 1968, Cris became a firefighter for the Racine Fire Department where he honed his culinary skills (much to the delight of his family and friends) until a rescue injury prompted him to focus on academics. After attending both UW-Parkside and UW-Madison, he graduated with a BS degree in Meteorology in 1976.
During these college years, he started a family with the love of his life, Mary (Tollefson, Mishicot, WI). They were married in Racine, June, 1970. They had two daughters, Catherine and Jill. When Jill was born, Cris was quoted as exclaiming, “What?! Another girl?!”
Cris began his career forecasting the weather as a weekend/part-time broadcast meteorologist at WBAY-TV in Green Bay, WI in the late 1970s while waiting for assignment with the National Weather Service (NWS). After completing his NWS internship in Sioux Falls, SD in 1981, Cris transferred to the Milwaukee, WI Forecast Office at Mitchell Field. There he created new iterations of Owlie Skywarn, the NWS weather education/safety program mascot, and invented a new method for snowfall forecasting, entitled “Garcia Method,” which is still referenced by meteorologists today. Cris, as a Lead Forecaster, retired from the NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan Office after 30 years of service in October, 2004.
Cris loved movies and sharing the experience with others. His fondest childhood memories were of him visiting (and occasionally sneaking into) movie theaters and buying popcorn or candy. As an adult, he created his own home theater system, and fostered his love of movies in others ( including his delicious specially made popcorn). He made an indelible impact on the lives of others, especially his daughters. He starred in Catherine’s film school project, and frequently co-hosted her radio show featuring movie soundtracks and trivia, on air in Madison, WI. He also inspired Jill to join the military (Navy) and pursue a career in the government.
In retirement, you could always find him in front of his computer posting to A/V forums, working on his website: thesandpebbles.com, quoting dialogue, and simul-watching movies with his family. Blessed with a dry sense of humor, Cris always surprised and delighted people with his uncanny insights into any situation, including his death.
He would often say, “All I really need to know I learned in the movies."
Cris, you will be greatly missed.
Cris is survived by his wife Mary, his daughters, Catherine (Madison, WI) and Jill (Randal Fote, Beltsville, MD), his sister Amy (Arturo Rosales, Kenosha), his brother Tom (Terri, Rio Rancho, NM). He is further survived by many loving family members and great friends.
Thelen Funeral Home in North Prairie is assisting the family. Cris will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. A celebration of his life will take place later this year.
To all who cared for Cris and supported his immediate family during the final scene in his life’s journey, “Thank you.”