VISTA — Moonlight Amphitheatre is mourning the loss of a beloved stage technician who died in late August after a short illness.
Chris Fabio Watkins, a 2009 graduate of Rancho Buena Vista High School, joined the Moonlight team in 2014 after participating in the theater program at Palomar College.
At college, Watkins discovered a passion for stage lighting that eventually grew into a career, taking him all over the country for the next eight years, according to Moonlight Technical Director Jennifer Edwards.
In a tribute to Watkins posted on social media, Edwards said, “Chris was hardworking, talented, and a dependable colleague. More importantly, he was always positive, humbly devoted, and a kind friend.”
Watkins worked on many Moonlight stage productions, the most recent being “Cinderella” this summer.
“It was an honor and pleasure to work with Chris,” Edwards said. “There was never a task he wouldn’t tackle with 100% of his abilities.”
According to Ted Watkins, his son fell ill over the summer during a trip to Texas, but he appeared to recover. Almost three weeks before his death, Chris Watkins began experiencing other symptoms. After a few visits to clinics and urgent care, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He died Aug. 27.
In addition to his work with Moonlight, Chris Fabio Watkins worked as a warehouse lighting technician at Show Imaging Inc. The company is planning a memorial in his honor.
Many people have shared their memories of Watkins, who was known for his sense of humor and making sure everyone felt included and heard. He was also known as a patient teacher who helped others whenever he could.
“It was evident that he will be greatly missed and in many people’s memories for years to come,” Ted Watkins said. “As a parent you work hard to teach your children to be the best they can be and show compassion and caring to others. From hearing all the stories since I was very down Saturday evening, I have come to the conclusion I have accomplished what we are supposed to do in life. … I know Chris is somewhere listening and reading all these stories with that big goofy grin on his face.”
Matt Chewiwie, a fellow Moonlight stage technician, started a GoFundMe to help raise funeral proceeds for the family. Like many others, he is devastated about the loss of his friend and colleague.
“Chris and I started on our paths during the same season,” Chewiwie said. “We grew together, made mistakes together, and laughed together.”
The family is working on arranging a memorial for Watkins.