Cover photo for Christine Jean Essex's Obituary
Christine Jean Essex Profile Photo
1953 Christine 2024

Christine Jean Essex

November 15, 1953 — February 10, 2024


Christine Jean Essex passed away on February 10, 2024, at her home in Tampa, Florida, after a battle with lung cancer. She was born in Hackensack, New Jersey on November 15, 1953, to Louise and Edward DeAppolonio, and was raised in nearby Paramus. 

Chris graduated from Paramus High School in 1972 and earned a bachelor's degree in special education with a specialty in autism from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in 1976.

Later in 1976, Chris married her high school sweetheart, Randy Essex, in an elegant ceremony in northern New Jersey. After the first of what would be multiple cross-country moves, they began their lives together in Berkeley, California, where her husband finished his graduate studies. They then relocated to Montgomery County, Maryland, where Chris assisted autistic children at Christ Church Child Center (now Ivymount School). In 1984, the couple moved back to California, this time to Irvine, where Chris completed a master’s degree in counseling psychology and marriage, family and child therapy at Chapman College. In 1986, they relocated to Oakland, California where their beloved son, Stephan, was born. There Chris partnered with a renowned colleague to launch the Center for Work and the Family, where Chris’ practice addressed work-family balance issues for families and for employees of several Fortune 200 companies. After 11 years in the Bay area, they returned to Rockville, MD so that Stephan could be closer to his grandparents. Chris continued her work-family practice there, focusing on employee wellness programs for biotech and media companies, as well as for federal agencies that included the CIA, the NSA, the TSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Departments of Labor and State, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Institutes of Health. During this time, her son graduated high school and later earned a bachelor’s degree in material science and engineering from Cornell University. 

For 12 years, Chris and her husband enjoyed a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, an emotional retreat they shared with family and friends. Chris reveled in the placid, uncomplicated way of island life. In 2013, Chris and her husband moved to Tampa, Florida, where they resided until Chris’ death in February 2024.

Chris was one of those remarkable people whom everyone adored. Her endless compassion and emotional intelligence helped others feel supported and cared for, a trait she passed on to her son. Chris’ helping instinct was evident as early as age 16 when she put her own needs aside as she guided a blind student to high school classes every day. Chris enjoyed a wide circle of dear friends and had an easy rapport that forged loyal friendships with shopkeepers, home help, and even the mail delivery personnel! 

Chris will be remembered for: 

1. Her love of black and white design, while emotionally she was all about the gray. 

2. Helping others make sense of their emotions and circumstances – creating “Aha” moments that changed their lives. 

3. An exquisite interior design vision resulting in homes that looked like House Beautiful. 

4. Her signature eggplant parmesan, turkey chili, and extra fudgy brownies (tip: slightly under-bake them!). 

5. A mothering instinct so honed, her son joked that his Mom turned Pro. 

6. Shoes! A collection that rivalled Amelda Marcos’. 

7. Insane organization skills – she was 3M’s greatest customer. 

8. Masterful, laser-driven bargain hunting. 

9. Thanksgiving dinners that anchored the family’s connections. 

10. Selfless devotion to family, including caring for her 96-year-old mother in her own home for over 2 years. 

Chris was predeceased by her mother, father, and father-in-law, Norman Essex. Chris is survived by her husband, Randy; her son, Stephan; her brother, Val DeAppolonio and his wife, Barbara; her “sister in love” Lauren Essex, mother-in-law, Lillian Essex, and an extended group of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and many more who admired her. Chris will be remembered as a force of nature; strong, determined, loyal, with a sharp wit, oh-so-intelligent and yet so warm and loving. Her style, spirit of generosity, and keen insights will continue to inspire those who knew and cherished her. May her memory be forever a blessing.

The service to honor and celebrate Chris’ life will be held on February 16, 2024, at 10:00 am at Jefferson Funeral Chapel in Alexandria, VA. Chris will be laid to rest at a site on Martha’s Vineyard.


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