Chris John Westhof

Chris John Westhof


Longtime Edmond resident Chris John Westhof III passed from his earthly body to the arms of Jesus April 7, 2023.   He was 77 years old.

Chris epitomized the definition of a renaissance man:  charismatic, expertise in many fields, from Certified Public Accounting to Church Organist to career service in the Oklahoma National Guard to his most important roles as devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Born July 9, 1945, in Holland, Michigan,  as the son of a Presbyterian minister, Chris’ family moved  when he was an infant to Saugerties, New York.  His Father’s service to other congregations would move the family from New York to Whitesboro, Texas; Tulia, Texas, and then, when Chris was in middle school, to Edmond, Oklahoma.  He was salutatorian of his graduating class at Edmond High school in 1963 and graduated from Central State College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree where he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and remained active as an alumnus throughout his lifetime.  After finishing his undergraduate degree, he worked as band director at Western Oaks Junior High School from 1970—1977.  He returned to Central State and completed a Master’s in Business Administration degree in 1980 and subsequently became a CPA, a profession he practiced until his retirement in 2019. 

Music was a driver in his life, a gift he gave to others through his magnificent organ playing for Church of the Savior, 1978-1990 and First Christian Church, Edmond, from 1990-2011. He was a talented tuba player and served in Oklahoma’s 145th Army Band from 1967 – 2005.  The band performances took him all over Oklahoma, much of the United States, and to a special performance in Italy for the 50th.  anniversary of D-Day.  Music was a part of his soul and he felt closest to God when he was playing the organ for Church.

Chris’ quick smile was usually a signal he was planning a surprise for someone, a family member, a friend, a colleague.  Often these ‘surprises’ resulted in travel, ski trips, totally redoing the kitchen when his wife was out of town for 5 days, refurbishing Connie’s 1949 Ford, arranging for five college friends to travel to Chicago for a surprise birthday party for Connie, to dinners for neighbors featuring his very, very special meat balls and spaghetti. 

Wherever he and Connie traveled,  whether for pleasure, an organ or band performance, or a business trip, Chris and Connie turned acquaintances into lifelong friends. Faith and family were his priorities, and he was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren; he worked hard to create memories for his children highlighted with frequent summer driving trips to his beloved home state of Michigan.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Connie Rae Ferneau Westhof, son Christian John Westhof IV and wife, Susan, granddaughter Annie Joe, of Denver; daughter Courtney Erin Westhof and partner Caren Koch, grandsons Ezra Reilly Koch and Spencer Aaron Westhof, of  Aachen, Germany, and, sister Lynda Westhof Adcock and her children, Rachel Perrin Cerchia,  her husband, Michael, and family of Colorado Springs,   and Jeremy Perrin, his wife Tara, and family, of Edmond.  He is also survived by many precious nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Chris John Westhof II and Donna Belle Sparks (adopted name; birth name Patricia Ruth DeBoer), and Chris’ brother, Charles David Westhof.

Chris fought Parkinson’s for 15 years but even in the final stages, his dry sense of humor brought smiles and laughter to his care givers, fellow patients, and family and friends.  The family is most grateful for the love and care of the staff at Jasmine Estates.

Memorials may be made to support his love of music to “Music Endowment Fund”, First Christian Church, P. O. Box 3548, Edmond, OK 73083. A celebration of Chris’ life will be held at 2 p.m.,  Friday, April 14,  at First Christian Church, 201 E. Second Street, Edmond, Oklahoma and will include playing recordings of Chris’ organ performances.

4 thoughts on “Chris John Westhof”

  1. Brenda Rahill Haggai

    I am truly sorry for his loss. I remember him well as my band director at Western Oaks. I will keep his memory to God in my prayers. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. May Our Good God comfort and soothe you. And may his memory be eternal!

  2. Randy George, Lt Col, USAF (retired)

    Chris was my junior high band director. I have many fond memories of those 3 years and the fun we all had with concerts, contests, and football games. I considered him a mentor and friend. We kept in touch after my high school years and ended up working in the same building on NW Expressway in Oklahoma City for a year or two when he was a CPA for Woods Petroleum, and I a petroleum engineer for Conoco. Through the years we spoke on the phone once in a while, and many times he called on my birthday just to say hi. We last spoke about 16 years ago when my mother passed away, and I regret we lost touch with one another. My sincere condolences to the Westhof family. Chris was a good man and I know he’ll be missed by many people.

  3. David Arnold

    I am so very sorry to hear about Mr. Westhof’s passing. To his dear wife Connie and the kids, I never know what to say in these times, but I do hope that knowing you are in the thoughts and prayers of so many friends across the country provides you some small measure of comfort.

    I had the good fortune of being in Mr. Westhof’s Jr. High bands in the early 1970s. He took a group of kids barely able to squeak out a tune on the recorder, and in short order assembled a band that, while never mistaken for the Boston Pops, did a very reasonable job of belting out such tunes as the Western Oaks Fight Song, Brandy, the Navy Hymn, Sweet Georgia Brown and many others, even delighting the audience with a surprise performance of “The Entertainer”, the theme song from the just-released movie The Sting. And though his job description focused on music, he taught us much more about life, respect for others, and the joy that comes from real friendship.

    I left Oklahoma after college and never moved back, effectively losing contact with my childhood friends. During the weird COVID lockdown, I reached out to friends with whom I hadn’t spoken in decades. That includes Mr. Westhof, whom I called for his 75th birthday. Incidentally, he was born on my parents’ first anniversary, and my wife and I were married on his 38th birthday. Anyway, we had a FaceTime chat and reminisced about our time together nearly 50 years earlier. It was a wonderful talk, and while he didn’t have the strength he once did, his charm and quick wit were still very much evident. Our talk brought to mind the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, and I hope he understood the impact he had on the lives of so many young people. I had hoped and planned to come to Edmond to visit him in person in the next few years, but unfortunately I waited too long. I regret that very much.

    He invited me to call him Chris since I am now in my 60s, and I appreciated that as a friend. But to me, he will always be Mr. Westhof. A kind, gentle man with an infectious smile and laugh, he was a wonderful teacher and mentor who became a good friend. Rest in peace Mr. Westhof – you are missed but will always be remembered and appreciated.

  4. Lynda Westhof Adcock

    Hi Big Brother! Just a few weeks shy of your leaving this earth last year to be with Jesus, Father, Mother, and brother David. I’ve missed you terribly this last 11+ months and I think of you daily, usually with tears streaming down my face, like now. I think of many things from our childhood. Remember the “I’ve got dibbs on the couch” summer? The couch was the only comfortable place to sit/lay in the living room, otherwise it was the floor. Whoever said dibbs and got on the couch first, got it for the rest of the day. You always seemed to get there first but one day we tied and I demanded my rightful position. You, or course disagreed, BUT, you forgot that girls grew long, sharp fingernails, and the battle began and eventually I assumed my couch “throne.” We had a tough time explaining why you were scratched and bloody when Mother got home from work. I don’t think she ever believed our reason, and we did get extra chores the next few days! We played in the neighborhood afternoons and weekends, road our bikes (we bought them ourselves) but only on the sidewalks. Mrs. Hale’s corner was a different story – she would yell, shake her fist and threaten us because we would ride across the corner of her yard ever time, as we did on all the corner yards on the block, just the only way to take a small corner on the sidewalk. She did call the police, they talked with Father and Father talked with us and we were not allowed to ride for a week or so, but then it was back on the lawns again until we were old enough to ride in the street. Remember when the manse and church were to be built on tenth street and Rankin street? Father drove us all down to look at the acerage the church had bought. It was enclosed by barbed wire and consisted of lots of trees and Johnson grass. Father wondered if it would burn, so he lit a match, threw it in the grass and immediately yelled at us to get in the car and we raced up the dirt road to our future neighbors and asked them to call the fire department. The firemen were “not amused,” gave Father a very sturn talking to and a hefty ticket. Father always planted a big garden in the red clay patch just south of the manse on tenth street. You had to weed and hoe that garden many summers. I got sick from the sun, so you did most of the work outside while I did your chores and mine in the unairconditioned house, and cooked supper. Thankfully, Father finally gave up on a garden – never produced enough to make the effort worthwhile! You built a bridge across “Pretty Banks,” the rock formation created by the drainage ditch to prevent flooding when the rains came rushing down tenth street. That was your first visit to Parkside Hospital and Dr. Roberts. You managed to “saw” your leg from the knee down to mid-calf. I watched for a bit and then had to go out for fresh air – but I didn’t pass out like you did when the doctor gave you a shot to deaden the pain while he stitched you up! Remember churning ice cream for hours in the late afternoon on the shaded patio – you and I took turns cranking while David sat on top of the churn? Best ice cream ever! Our teen years were better – playing Monoply every day the summer you were 15 and I was 13, sometimes 2, 3 or 4 games a day. You won most of the time but I won enough to be able to say, “You were not the champion, just barely the winner of most games.” The following summer, the family drove to Holland, Michigan, for Mother’s father’s funeral. You asked if we could go to the Lake Michigan shore and see the lighthouse there – lighthouses always being a passion with you. Surprisingly, Father and Mother said yes, if we promised to be back for the supper provided by the church that evening. We packed a lunch and took off, seven hours to walk on the lake shore, eat lunch, view the lighthouse and then head back with plenty of time before the dinner. But then there was this paved side road that went back to a different part of the lake; off we went to explore. The pavement quickly turned to sand and we got stuck before you could even turn around. You tried and tried to get us out but no way was that sand letting go – we just went deeper. After a couple of hours of both us trying, digging (with our hands), praying and getting scared what Father and MOTHER would do to us if we didn’t get back in time, a dune buggy came by and managed to get us out and back to the main road. We made it back with about 15 minutes to spare and two very very upset parents. Mother was wayyyy beyond angry, didn’t speak to us for the next day or so and gave us that “look of her’s” if we so much as looked, acted, of even hinted we were thinking of doing something wrong! We survived that summer. The next summer you drove me to church summer camp – remember the car going so slow and you pulled along side and told the driver “to get moving or get off the road!” Not the best way to meet a county sheriff – but you drove perfectly all the rest of the way to camp! We managed to survive the rest of highschool relatively unscathed. You went off to college and I arrived three years later. You were the very protective older brother – most of the time I was very happy you were so protective but you also got in the way of me going to afterparties and when I wanted to date a TEKE brother of yours. I later learned that you had given those guys very strict instructions that I was off limits to any of them!!!! After you graduated, joined the Army National Guard and got married, we didn’t see each other as much. Life happened, jobs happened, I married a TEKE, babies came and life moved forward too quickly. Remember the weekend at Turner Falls with our spouses, two young kids and two barely year old babies? I have that picture of you holding and rocking Courtney and Jeremy! That was our one and only trip we took as families. Life just got to busy and we just weren’t as close anymore. Lester died, i had two kids to raise, a demanding job and we just grew apart. We visited your family and you mine, but not on a regular basis, We always spent July 4th together – the parade, lunch and pool time at your house, and then the wonderful, beautiful fireworks display! I married Dick and started life over again, so to speak. The kids grew up and moved away, and suddenly or so it seems, we started to spend time together again – empty nesters I guess. We spent many a Friday or Saturday together eating and playing Triple Crown, dominos, and other games from 4 or 5 pm to 10, 11 or even midnight. Dick and I enjoyed those times together so very much and I miss those time together terribly. I will remember only the good times of our later years and the years of our childhood. It was a perfect time to us! We weren’t “perfect” – just preacher’s kids trying to be “good examples for normal kids” while trying to prove at the same time that we were just as bad as the “normal kids!” I’ve enjoyed our time together tonight, so many more stories we could talk about, so many memories to share BUT – – – – – – -I love you Big Brother, I miss you always and hope to join the family in good time! Love you, Lynda

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top