Remembering Chris Hondros

By IRP Staff, July 26, 2011

I've just come out of a moving one-hour and 45-minute memorial service in Brooklyn for Chris Hondros, a former IRP Fellow who was killed a week ago covering the conflict in Libya.

About 1,000 people filled the Sacred Hearts St. Stephens Church in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, many standing in the aisles during the service, which was attended by Chris's fiancée, his mother, his brother and many of Chris's friends and colleague in journalism.

"Chris lived an extraordinary life," said Pancho Bernasconi, his editor at Getty Images, the photo agency for whom Chris covered so many of the world's most violent conflicts and for whom Chris worked when he was an IRP Fellow in 2001.

He and photojournalist Tim Hetherington were killed in a fire fight last week between government and rebel forces in Libya.

"His pictures will endure," said Bernasconi.

Christina Piaia, Chris's fiancée, brought many people to tears when she recalled that the two of them had stood in this same church early this month to practice for their wedding, which had been scheduled for August. "We found true love," she said, and recalled that Chris had wanted "to invite the world" to their wedding.

Many former IRP Fellows attended the memorial service, including Christina Larson, Anne Sherwood, Otto Pohl, Shayla Harris, Jessie Graham, Travis Fox and Janet Reitman, along with former IRP Gatekeeper Editor Graham Smith. During his 2001 IRP Fellowship, Chris reported from the Niger delta in Nigeria. 

Writer Greg Campbell, who worked with Chris in Africa and was with him in Libya a week before Chris was killed, said he had known Chris said he was 14 years old.

"We knew the best was yet to come," said Campbell, who said Chris had been speaking to everyone about how excited he was about his planned summer wedding.

The service featured selections of classical music, which Chris loved, including orchestral and vocal pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Mahler. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Chris's mother lives and where Chris grew up.