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Fallen Hero

Santa Rosa's Matt Reynolds remembers his cousin Chris Stevens, the Libyan ambassador killed in Benghazi

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"He was a beautiful character, always cracking jokes," says Reynolds. "He was a great listener and had an abiding passion for the Middle East. When people would bring up the dangers, Chris would tell them it was as dangerous as East Oakland. He loved the Middle East, and made many of us love it as well."

On visits to the States, Stevens would stop by Indigenous and cheer on both Reynolds and cofounder Scott Leonard. "Chris was a big supporter," says Reynolds. "I have a picture of him wearing our stuff in Jerusalem." On the Indigenous website, product descriptions are outnumbered by references to marketplace justice and to the concept of literally wearing one's commitment.

The paternal optimism bequeathed to son and nephew seems to permeate the clan, along with Stevens' passion for that culture. The family bears no rancor toward Libya. It was Stevens' adopted home, where he ate in cafes with Libyans and routinely ran for exercise in the streets. "He had guards with him," says Reynolds, "but he wanted to be with the people. He really felt love for them." According to Reynolds, Stevens is being revered by some as a hero of Libya.

In fact, a Libyan Muslim honored Stevens at a memorial service in San Francisco, underscoring an observation made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "Chris won friends for the United States in far-flung places. He made those people's hopes his own." If Stevens' own hopes live on, it may be in part due to the family optimism that in any country—or any marketplace—things can get better.

"We are just hoping some good will come of Chris' death, that it helps promote understanding between Western and Arab worlds," says Reynolds. "He was such an incredibly caring person, so respectful to everybody, and really trying to make a difference in the world. Chris inspired me in so many ways to follow my dreams. Dreams do come true. Good people are out there."

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