In Memoriam: Chris VonBartheld
Fri., Dec. 10. 2021 8:19pm EST
This is J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX.
We are very sad to report that ApologetiX alumnus keyboardist Chris VonBartheld passed away on Saturday night, December 4, after being hospitalized for COVID on November 22. He was 58.
All of us in ApologetiX are in shock. Everything happened so suddenly. We loved Chris very much. We are certainly not alone ... in his all-too-brief life, he was a member of many bands and worship teams, and even served as a pastor.
Chris is survived by his wife, Brandi. He was born and raised in Long Island NY, but was living in the Pittsburgh PA area when he joined ApologetiX. He moved to Florida in October 2015 and then to South Carolina in November 2021.
Chris played his first concert with ApologetiX in Cherry Tree PA on June 22, 2013, although he actually started traveling with us on May 17, 2013. I began calling him "CVB" shortly thereafter, and he embraced that right away and would refer to himself as such in all of his correspondence with me.
After a brief internship with ApologetiX, during which he got to observe and spend quality time with both of his predecessors (Todd Waites and Bill Hubauer), Chris became an official member in July 2013. We stopped touring regularly after Chris moved to Florida, but even so, he flew back to play with us for special concerts in 2016 and 2017.
Chris also continued to participate in some of our studio recordings until the spring of 2018, when Rich Mannion joined the band as our new keyboardist, and he made Rich feel very welcome. Chris was always up for a new concert, a new recording, or a new song. And the lyrics we were singing mattered to him. And that's a good thing, because he was our main back-up vocalist during his tenure with the band.
He stayed in touch with us over the years (I still have all of his emails to me) and had been hoping to attend our annual Christmas get-together in 2020 with Brandi, but it was cancelled because of COVID.
Now I'd like to say a few things personally about him:
Chris was one of my favorite people who has ever been a part of ApologetiX. He and I shared many late-night (and early-morning and midday) one-on-one conversations on the band bus and elsewhere. He was so bright, thoughtful, insightful, well read, and knowledgable.
Although he was by no means a chatterbox, CVB could talk about virtually any topic without ever seeming like a know-it-all, whether it be the Bible, music, sports, movies, history, whatever.
More importantly, he was strong but gentle and easygoing ... and such a loyal, good friend. I am so blessed to have known him. Last year, he surprised me at Christmas by sending an old bobblehead he found in a store of one of my favorite Pittsburgh sports figures from the 70's. He remembered that I liked that player, and said he just had to get it for me when he saw it.
I talked with him a number of times two years ago when he was at an incredibly low spiritual and emotional point in his life. At that time, before he met Brandi, things were so bad that I know he would have welcomed a quick exit from this life.
I know that for a fact, because he told me plainly while it was happening. Chris had always been so upbeat, but he went through a terribly trying time. Nevertheless, he persevered by the grace of God. Last December, on the day he married Brandi, he sent me an email with the subject line "What a Difference a Year Makes."
I am so glad he got those two extra years, and I am so glad for the eight and a half years I got to know him. His favorite song to play with us live was our Elton John parody "Talk and I'll Walk" (he loved Elton), but his favorite line in any of our songs came from "Lived the Day You Died," an Eminem parody:
"Though I'm just a slimeball, took me in when I called — yes, I'm enlistin' as a Christian disciple."
He had that quote posted as part of his Facebook profile for quite some time. Even though he didn't write those words, they say a lot about his attitude — he was a humble man who was well aware of his need for Jesus, and He listened for what the Lord had to say to Him.
We will all miss him terribly, although we know we will see him again. Please pray for Brandi, who only got to spend a brief time with him. This Sunday, December 12, would have been their first anniversary.
Rest in peace, Chris. Until we meet again.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.