Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

Carpe diem, before it’s too late


by Jesse Bussard

I was driving east this morning on I-64, on my way back to Pennsylvania to visit the family for Christmas, when I received a text message. It read, “Snaps, Raines died in a car accident last night.”  This message came from one of my best friends, Amy Shollenberger.  We had both become close friends with Dr. Chris Raines, during our time at Penn State University.

At first, my reaction was disbelief.  No one wants to hear that someone close to them is gone.  I had to pull off the road.  It was too much to process.  I checked Facebook and found the article from the Centre Daily Times that reaffirmed my worst fears.  Raines’ truly was gone.

I spent the next 5 hours fighting off tears and driving.  At one point, while stopping for gas somewhere in West Virginia I pulled up Facebook on my phone to see what was going on.  I was floored by the  overwhelming amount of comments and posts in relation to Raines’ death.  Taking the time to read a tribute post by Andy Vance, I couldn’t help but break out in tears again.

I spent a lot of time driving today and I had a lot of time to think back on my experiences with Chris Raines.  You see, I considered him a close friend.  I looked up to him and valued his opinion.  Our relationship wasn’t the typical student-professor kind.  I never had Dr. Raines for a class.  It was more sheer luck that we even connected at my time at Penn State as I wasn’t exactly a meat science student.  I like to think that our relationship was more one of viewing each other as peers.

I can’t pinpoint the first time Chris and I talked.  It was sometime back in the Fall of 2009.  Our newly formed Collegiate Cattlewomen chapter at Penn State was planning our travel to the 2010 NCBA Convention in San Antonio and Chris offered his assistance in helping me get things set up.  He later went on to act as a chaperone for our group along with the Beef Quiz Bowl Team during our time at the convention.  I’ll never forget our flight down.  We had a layover in Detroit to catch our connecting flight to San Antonio.  So to pass the time, Chris and I stopped at an Irish Pub in the airport for a Guinness.  You could always count on Chris for some interesting conversation over a beer.

From this first connection we developed a friendship of sorts.  I helped him with a few extension educational events, such as his Freezer Beef School and learned a lot about how he was using social media as an educational tool to reach both those in the meat industry and consumers.

It was about this time last year, I was getting close to graduating, when Chris approached me with the idea that I should start my own blog.  I think that without his encouragement “Pearl Snaps’ Ponderings” would cease to exist.  Chris was always one to make you question things.  He was one to challenge your standards and your perception of common public opinion.  Through this he made me a more critical thinker.

The last opportunity I had to see Chris was in May of this year.  He and another close friend, Jude Capper were in Washington, DC during the same time I and two good friends, Sarah Muirhead and Ray Bowman, were in town for the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholder’s Summit.  We had the chance to meet twice for dinner that week and I never thought for one second that would be the last time I’d see him in person.  This goes to show that we shouldn’t take life or our friends for granted.  In the blink of an eye we can be gone from this world.

The number one quality I admire in people is passion.  Passion involves putting your all into everything you do.  Chris Raines was a man of passion.  No matter what he did, he was forthright and honest.  He put it all on the line and didn’t hold anything back.  These are the qualities that make a difference in this world and I truly believe Chris Raines made a difference.  In fact, I know he did.  He made  a difference in my life.  He encouraged me, challenged me, and supported me and for that I will always be grateful.

There is a million more things I could go on to say about Chris but I’m going to stop here.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the rest of his friends.  He’ll always have a place in my heart.  Here’s to the future that could have been…RIP Chris Raines.

If there’s one thing Chris would want us all to do it would be to “seize the day.”  So in that spirit, “Carpe diem, before it’s too late.”

Many other individuals who knew Chris also wrote some touching tributes to him.  I hope you’ll take the time to read through some of them.

I also encourage you to check out Chris’s blogs, and the Academic Abattoir.  You can find some of the great educational videos about meat science Chris produced here on YouTube.

And the following are two videos Dr. Raines did in cooperation with MeatMythCrushers:

12 thoughts on “Carpe diem, before it’s too late

  1. I know you will truly miss him…. lots of us will and I wasn’t lucky enough to get in the same place as Chris that often! Glad you arrived back in PA safely.

  2. What a tribute, Jesse! My encounters with Chris came on Twitter. I loved his wit with science based information. I thought today of the chance meeting we had in May when you were out with him in DC. Thanks for sharing. As I said earlier today the world lost a strong voice today. He was a fabulous advocate for all of agriculture. Godspeed to all his family and friends.

  3. Thank you for sharing! So sorry for your loss. I respect Chris’ work so much and know that he must have been a truly great educator. Wishing you all the best.

  4. Jesse you were obviously blessed by your contacts with Dr. Raines and I commend you on this beautiful tribute. Thanks.

  5. Well written, Jesse, and thanks for sharing. There’s not anything adequate enough to say, but I’m thinking of you as well as all his family and friends during this difficult time.

  6. I’m very sorry for your loss. I “met” Chris online and he was always intelligent, educational and just plain hugely fun. It’s a terrible loss to the food community. My condolences.

  7. So very very sorry for the loss of your friend.

  8. Wonderful tribute Jesse…I was wondering why I hadn’t heard anything from you when this tragic news came out early yesterday morning. I now know you were traveling home. I never had the opportunity to meet Chris (other than SM) but know he was an amazing person as witnessed by all the outpouring from his friends. Have a good holiday and know that Chris is in a better place.

  9. Jesse, my heart aches for you and others who knew Chris much better than I did, but also for those who never will have that opportunity. He was clearly a special person who impacted many lives as a teacher, mentor and friend. He lives on through each of you!

    • Thanks everyone for the outflow of concern and support in this hard time! I really do appreciate it. Chris will be dearly missed by all of us. Keep his family in your prayers as I’m sure this is hardest for them.

  10. Pingback: One year and counting… | Pearl Snaps' Ponderings

  11. Pingback: Memorial of a Meat Geek « Pearl Snaps' Ponderings

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