Chris Elfring

August 14, 1955June 7, 2018
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Chris Elfring (Age 62) of Takoma Park, MD, died from brain cancer June 7, 2018, surrounded by family and friends.

Chris was born in Berwyn, IL in 1955 and moved with her family to the Philadelphia area in 1969. She received a B.A. from Denison University and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin. In 1979, she moved to Washington, D.C. as an AAAS Science Fellow working at the Office of Technology Assessment. For several summers in the early 1980s, Chris worked as a park ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine.

In 1988, Chris began her career with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where most recently she was the Executive Director of the Gulf Research Program. Previously, Chris was Director of both the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the Polar Research Board. She provided strategic leadership to the suite of activities known as "America's Climate Choices". She was a leader in the planning of International Polar Year 2007-2008, and has a geographic feature in Antarctica, Elfring Peak, named in honor of her polar science work. In 2012, the American Meteorological Society awarded her the Cleveland Abbe Award for Distinguished Service to the Atmospheric Sciences and she was elected an AMS Fellow.

Chris had a long-standing interest in the policy dimensions of science and communicating science to non-scientists. Her deep love of the environment and the outdoors touched all who knew her -- at work, in her community, and her family -- to their great and enduring benefit.

Chris is survived by her spouse of 33 years, Ann Flather Miles; her mother, Dorothy Elfring; her brothers Gary Elfring (Mary) and David Elfring (Betsy) and their children Adrianne, Matt, Jess, Ana, and Emma; Ann's children Julie Miles (Randy Allworth), Jen McDonald (Jay), and David Miles (Lisa); her beloved grandchildren, Max, Aimee, Sean, Mason, Braxton, Avery, Ryann, and Evan; her goddaughter Ryan Seaton-Evans; and her many dear friends.

A celebration of Chris's life will be held on Sunday, August 5, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, MD. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to WAMU-FM, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), or FreeState Justice. Equality Maryland has merged with FreeState Justice and can be reached at the link below.

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  • A celebration of Chris's life Sunday, August 5, 2018

Chris Elfring

have a memory or condolence to add?

Candace Reed

August 14, 2018

Chris was part of an influx of new students in 1969 in our suburban Philadelphia town - when dads got promoted and families moved cross country often. She was a neighbor, a friend, a hoot, and part of a clan of the newcomers that bonded quickly and held fast through high school graduation. I have been looking on the internet for years to reconnect , but never did. Saw her 20 years ago at our high school reunion and once heard of her phenomenal career contributions from a friend. What a tribute to life, learning, contributing, family and love. To Ann Miles, my sincerest condolences and hugs. Someday I hope we can sit down and I can hear the stories of her later years. She made an impact on all of us when in school, and by the pictures, continued with your family. You are a lucky family.

Kim Lee

August 13, 2018

So very sad to lose touch with special people in your life. Chris was a dear friend thru' high school & a bridesmaid in my wedding. The world has lost a kind soul.
Kim Wagner Lee

Julie Palais

August 12, 2018

I was extremely saddened to learn of Chris' passing. I wish I could have been there at the recent memorial service but I had other prior commitments. I worked in Polar Programs at NSF from 1990-2016 and I had many opportunities to interact with Chris when she worked with the Polar Research Board (PRB). I wish I had taken more time to get to know her outside of work and I wish she were still here so I could tell her how much I admired her. I do recall her coming to the Cosmos Club one time when I was giving a talk and I really appreciated her showing up after a long day of work. She is greatly missed by all who knew her. A donation to WAMU-FM will be made in her memory. I hope her family knows how much she was respected and loved by all who knew her.

Waleed Abdalati

June 30, 2018

I am so sorry to learn of Chris's passing. I always appreciated her competence, commitment, and thoughtfulness. Although it has been awhile since we last interacted, I feel a profound sense of loss. She was one of those people who gently and effectively made me think about important matters, and is a very positive memory from my times in Washington. My heart goes out to all of her loved ones.

Randy Showstack

June 28, 2018

I am so saddened to learn of Chris' passing. I remember Chris as such a kind-hearted, caring, and good person, who knew so much about science and society. My deepest condolences to Chris' family and friends.

Julie Miles

June 23, 2018

It will be some time before I can accept the world without Chris' physical presence, but I am able to feel gratitude for the years we had as family. The way Chris lived taught so many important to be oneself without pretense, how to build a strong marriage, and how to balance meaningful work and relaxation and play. Randy, our kids, and I miss Chris so much already; Max feels sad to be heading into a summer without Grammy camp. We are thankful for the amazing network of neighbors, friends, and family who are surrounding Mom during this time, a clear reflection of the love and support both Chris and Mom have offered to others. Randy and I are spending time, as we like to do, taking walks, hikes, and kayaks - being in the wilder places that Chris loved - finding some small solace in the words of Emerson: In Nature, a wild delight runs through man, in spite of real sorrows. (photo r to l, Chris, Ann, Jen, Jul, Dave, snorkeling and sailing the Whitsunday Islands, Australia)

Patrick Webber

June 20, 2018

It is with great sadness that I learned of Chris’ passing. I was a member of the Polar Research Board for many years. Chris was very helpful to me as the U.S. representative to the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). In particular, she provided wise insight while I was President of IASC and while planning our Nation’s participation in the most recent International Polar Year. I shall not forget my time of service to the Board; all thanks to Chris leadership.
She will be missed. May she rest in peace
Patrick J. Webber
Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology
Michigan State University

Warren Zapol

June 18, 2018

As a member of IOM and an Antarctic researcher I worked with Chris and others at the NAS to develop a plan and write a report for NSF on the next 10-20 years of Antarctic research- We travelled together with our committee to McMurdo and South Pole. A brilliant editor, thoughtful companion and skillful reporter of positive and negative findings, Chris was invaluable to the process. She was a delight to work with on the Polar board. I send my deepest condolences to her family, Warren Zapol MD

Lisa Miles

June 17, 2018

We will cherish all of the great memories we have of Grammy Chris. She always took the time to read to Ryann and Evan. And never turned down an opportunity to go to the park or get down on the floor and play.
She sent the best presents, just fun enough that no one ever really knew that they were really educational.
Grammy Chris always took the time to teach the kids about science and nature. She made both topics seem so accessible to even the youngest of the kids.

Jen McDonald

June 16, 2018

Sweet memories of Grammy Chris: Her patience with the grandchildren is legendary, she made the “best chicken nuggets”, she was up for any game, taught them to cross country ski and fish and she always made nature and science interesting. We miss her dearly 💜💜