Rest in Peace Chris Chandler
Canton, GA. A local treasure, loved and respected Canton businessman, musician and Cherokee County native, Chris Chandler, 52, died Monday two years after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Chandler is remembered for his incredible musical talents, his love of family and friends, his creativity and generosity as a business owner and his community involvement.
A graduate of Cherokee High School and the University of Georgia, Chandler was lead guitarist and singer with the local band Thrillhammers, which most recently performed in May at Canton First Friday and in late April at the Rotary Club of Canton fundraiser.
“He was always family first, he was all about family, and fortunate enough to live on family land that had been in his family for 100 years,” wife Pam Chandler said Tuesday. “He was the best husband, the best father that there has ever been. He was extremely strong, and because of the way he was raised, he was strong in his faith and his work ethic.”
His wife also remembered him for his love of his community. She said the last two concerts were tough on her husband, but that he loved doing them.
“There was not anybody that he met that didn’t like him, he always put other people first,” Pam Chandler said.
Fellow Thrillhammer band member Greg Brooks remembered his friend for his dedication, cheerfulness and encouragement.
“I don’t think he ever once was presented with a task or undertaking that he didn’t know he could do it. He was relentless in getting things done and always in the most cheerful manner,” Brooks said. “He was always positive and always encouraging. He made me a better musician just by playing with him and made me a better person just by knowing him.”
Chris Chandler and Brooks, along with Wayne Bagwell and Shannon Bobo, started the Thrillhammers in 1987. While the four grew up in north Cherokee County, it was not until they graduated high school that the musicians came together for the first time to jam.
“They didn’t get together to get famous or rich, they just wanted to play some good music. And a funny thing happened. They never stopped,” the band’s biography reads.
Brooks said that playing with the other three who became steadfast friends led to great times, good music and memories.
“He was the easiest person to work with, he was the easiest to be around,” Brooks said. “It is great to play music, but it is ridiculously great to play with three you loved like a brother.”
The four put together two CDs of mostly original music.
“I loved his sense of humor, a lot of our song-writing sessions would go nowhere because we would begin to laugh and just quit writing because we were laughing so much,” Brooks said. “He played, he sang, and everyone in the band writes music, but Chris and I wrote a lot of the two records, and I bet there are 50 more songs lying around.”
Chandler received a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in graphic design from UGA, he wife said.
“Chris started his company Chandler Graphics in 1986 in August,” Pam Chandler said. “He wanted to be a cartoonist, and to major in graphic design, but there wasn’t a major at the time at Georgia, so he took journalism.”
After graduation, back home in Cherokee County, a friend asked him to design a sign for Macedonia Video, and the rest as they say was history.
“He was very proud that when he first started everything he did was hand-painted, there were no computers. Then they came out with the first computers, and he dove in and learned how to use them, and he was so proud that he was part of the beginning,” she said. “He took a lot of pride in his creative ability with logo design, and he could come up with great ideas from scratch.”
But the work for those serving the community was what he loved best, she said.
“To do work for the county, the fire department, schools, sheriff’s department, and police meant a lot to him, because he loved his community and most of the work was done right here,” she said.
Both Chandler’s parents died of cancer, and when Atlanta radio personality Kaedy Kiely of 97.1 the River decided to do a benefit golf tournament in Canton three years ago after she lost a friend to breast cancer, Chandler offered to help out.
“I had a friend who passed away from breast cancer, she was young, I wanted to start a charity golf tourney and we set up Marcy’s Mulligan. We needed someone to help us with shirts,” Kiely said. When she went to meet with Chris, he had a recording of Kiely introducing a song of his on the radio in 1989 on his computer, she said.
The first year the tourney raised $50,000 dollars, she said.
“He was just incredible. Then within two months he was diagnosed and we could not believe it, and I would never believe that two years later we would be here,” Kiely said Tuesday.
Kiely said in the three years since meeting Chris Chandler she has come to respect and love him and his family.
“When I think of him it is his generosity — he would always think about other people — his selflessness and wanting to help others. His wife and daughter are like that too. I truly feel they are my family. Really, really decent, good people,” the radio personality said.
Chris Chandler was a member of Hightower Baptist Church and beloved coach for over 10 years of the Lady Shooter’s Travel Basketball Team and the Free Home Rec League, his wife said.
“He coached many, many girls along with our daughters who respected and admired him,” Pam Chandler said. “He had a real impact on their lives.”
After his diagnosis he worked closely with Cherokee County lung cancer survivor Jackie Archer, who like Chandler was not a smoker, to raise awareness of the disease through the Lung Cancer Matters license plate campaign.
“Chris willingly took on the project of designing all of the marketing materials to broadcast the state of Georgia Lung Cancer Awareness license plate,” Archer said. “Through his efforts, materials were created and sent to facilities throughout the state of Georgia, DMV offices, and lung cancer awareness events.”
Archer said some of his marketing appeared on CNN.
“Because of Chris and his willingness to give back, others that have been impacted by this disease now know of this first of a kind effort in the U.S.,” she said.
Along with his wife, Chandler is survived by daughters Aly Chandler and Sydney Chandler and other relatives.
Funeral services are Friday at 11 a.m. at Hightower Baptist Church with the Rev. Gerral Richards and Dr. George Anderson officiating. Interment will follow in the Lovelaceville Cemetery.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. at Sosebee Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to www.teamdraft.org to fight for and support cancer fighters and their families.