To the shock and bewilderment of those who knew him, Christopher Bolkcom, a distinguished analyst at the Congressional Research Service, died suddenly May 1 at age 46.
Twenty years ago, Christopher was a research assistant working for John Pike here at FAS. He quickly went on to become a national expert on military aviation and other aspects of defense policy. When looking over a bibliography of studies prepared for the secretive Office of Net Assessment, I was impressed to see that Christopher had co-authored several papers for the influential Pentagon group more than fifteen years ago. More recently, as a CRS analyst, he wrote dozens of authoritative reports on military aircraft and all kinds of related topics. He was much in demand. As noted by the Project on Government Oversight, he testified at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee just last Thursday, the day before he died.
But Christopher’s testimony (pdf) and his publications on “Tactical Air Modernization” (pdf) and the like don’t begin to capture the depth and vitality of the man. He knew enough discord in his own life to make him thoughtful and forgiving towards the weaknesses of others. (Well, sometimes.) He had a mischievous sense of humor and he liked to live on the edge. He pursued the martial arts, he rode a motorcycle to work, and he listed me as a reference for his security clearance renewal.
Above all, Christopher was a loving father to his two young children, Jessica and Max. He was also a generous and devoted friend. His family has invited those who remember him to make a donation in his name to the Falls Church Presbyterian Church Youth Program, 225 E. Broad Street, Falls Church, Virginia 22046.