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Obituary: Christopher Langer

Published September 2012

Chris left his loved ones early this morning.  We will miss and cherish him (this incredible man) in our hearts forever.  His beloved wife Pearl can be reached at Pearl Liao Langer  

Christopher E. Langer, 53, a long-time resident of River Vale, died on August 24, 2012 from complications resulting from his long struggle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He is survived by his loving wife Pearl Liao Langer.

Chris graduated Pascack Valley high school in 1977. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Radford University (Virginia) in 1982, graduate from the Swedish Institute of Massage in NYC and become a Licensed Massage Therapist in 1985, and receive his Master’s degree with a concentration in pollution studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1996.
Chris worked for the Hackensack Water Company (now part of United Water New Jersey) for 12 years, beginning his career as a watchman and yard laborer and finishing in operations and maintenance, and the water quality analysis laboratory. During that time he graduated classes and obtained New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection T-2 (water treatment) and W-2 (water distribution) treatment plant operations licenses.
 An accomplished athlete, Chris played two intercollegiate sports for Radford University, where he was an All-Conference lacrosse goaltender and a member of the 1981 Virginia Intercollegiate State Championship soccer team. After college Chris coached soccer three years at Pascack Hills high school (1984-1986) and was assistant coach to the 1985 State Championship team. He was a member of the Clarkstown Sports Club in Rockland County from 1984 until 1997 where he played amateur soccer; during that time he was named Most Valuable Player by his coaches multiple times and also coached youths for the club for three years, including an under-10-year-old NYC Cosmopolitan League championship team in 1991.
Chris was diagnosed with ALS in 1997 at the age of 38. In January 1999 he moved to China to continue Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for this illness and work voluntarily as a Foreign Expert in environmental protection at Nankai University in Tianjin. Together with Pearl Liao Hong, Associate Professor at Nankai and accomplished environmentalist, the couple contributed to a wide range of international, national and local initiatives to improve environmental education and environmental protection in China, including publishing the first book in Chinese language on the history of US environmental management.
Chris and Pearl fell in love and were married in China in 2003. In 2005 they moved to America while continuing their work improving cooperation between China and America in the field of environmental education. Chris volunteered for several years for the Professional Association for China’s Environment (PACE) and eventually served as the only white cracker on the organization’s Board of Directors from 2008 until 2012.
Chris believed every person has a responsibility to make the world a better place and although he tried to live by those words, he inevitably fell short on numerous occasions. Among his favorite activities were making new friends, listening to music, bicycling, swimming and playing guitar. By time of his death, Chris had studied Chinese history, culture and modern society for over 20 years and counted among his greatest achievements the ability to speak Chinese very poorly.
Chris said the following before his passing……  “Dear friends and family, I think most of you know I have been battling Lou Gehrig’s disease for a number of years. My physical condition has been deteriorating at an accelerated rate the past few weeks and months. I don’t think I will be alive much longer. I just wanted to take this time to say goodbye. I hope you will remember me fondly and find it in your heart to forgive me for all of the shitty, selfish and hurtful things I have done.
Most important to me, I hope you will maintain contact with my wife, Pearl. She is such a wonderful human being, such a good person. She often feels alone and lonely in this new country. Please take a little time to see how she is getting along every now and then. She has given me the best years of her life, and the best years of my life. I want her to go forward in life and again find happiness and love.”

Donations in Chris’s memory may be made to Compassionate Care ALS (

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on September 8th, 2012 with a post-gathering of family and friends to celebrate Chris’s life.
Presbyterian Church in Norwood
Phone: (201) 768-2223
701 Broadway
Norwood, NJ 07648