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Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens Was 'A Very Smart, Very Funny Guy,' Says Cal Roommate

Playwright Austin Tichenor, a classmate who shared a birthday with slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, recalls a friend who "never got cynical" during their years at Piedmont High School and as roommates at UC Berkeley.

Playwright Austin Tichenor, a classmate who shared a birthday with slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, recalls a friend who "never got cynical" during their years at Piedmont High School and as roommmates at UC Berkeley.

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday night, was "a very funny, very smart guy but never got cynical," says Austin Tichenor, a classmate at Piedmont High School and Stevens' roommate at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tichenor shared his memories of Stevens in a phone interview with Piedmont Patch on Wednesday afternoon.

"Chris loved being in that part of the world, trying to make a difference in a troubled part of the world," Tichenor said. 

Stevens was a teenager with "a big goofy grin" who played tennis and acted in musical productions at and Cal, Tichenor said. Stevens and Tichenor shared a birthday — April 18 — and a love of musical theater.

"I directed him in musicals at Cal and in a 1980 musical at Piedmont High School, part of Piedmont's Fourth of July celebration," said Tichenor, who is now an actor, playwright and co-owner of the Reduced Shakespeare Co., a Chicago-based theater group.

Although they took very different career paths, the two men remained friends over the years.

"We were both in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2010 and talked until 2 in the morning — we wouldn't let him shut up," Tichenor said.

He said Stevens also returned to Piedmont about two years ago to share the holidays with his family. Stevens' mother and stepfather, Mary and Robert Commanday (a long-time music critic for the San Francisco Chroncle) still live in Piedmont, Tichenor said. Stevens' father and many other relatives also live in Northern California, he said.

"He's from a big, successful family of doctors and lawyers," Tichenor said.

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