Remembrances of Christine Renee Lucientes

Christine Renee Lucientes

DOB: 1/22/52 • Died: 11/18/78

Entered Jonestown: 7/17/77
Christine was survived by:

Her parents: Jose & Gail Lucientes
Her brother: David J. Lucientes
Her sister: Diane Cooper
Grandparents, Cousin, Aunts, Uncles

Christine Renee Lucientes

From her brother David:

Christine was a tomboy growing up. She had the biggest muscles. I always called them her Pop-Eye muscles. She would always beat me up, and gave me a bloody nose that lasted for weeks. I still have scars on my leg from where she made me climb and fall off a rickety old ladder.

Our family did a lot of camping. We went to places like Blue Lakes, Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. We also attended a number of peace marches, protesting the war in Vietnam.

There were always lots of friends hanging out in our Redwood Valley, California home, most of them Christine’s. She attended Redwood Valley Elementary and Ukiah High School. She was always very outspoken, always questioning the necessity of rules. I remember when I started high school, the principal said, “Oh, no, not another Lucientes!”

I attended a couple of Peoples Temple services with her in 1967 or 1968. I couldn’t believe Jones’ hocus pocus bull! Someone throwing up cancer. Someone in a wheelchair healed. I’m glad I didn’t believe, and wish she wouldn’t have. When I found out she went to Jonestown, I wanted to go find her. Now I wish I would have.

Once we found out she was dead, it took about a month to get her body back. A friend and I dug her grave by hand with picks and shovels. I had raw and blistered hands for days. We had a graveyard service with 20-30 friends and family in attendance. Once we started to lower that military aluminum casket, we realized the hole was not big enough, and we had to dig more. There were a lot of tears.

She is now resting in peace on our family home site, the Elgin Mine.

I love you, my dumb Pop-eye sister!

From her sister Diane:

My sister Chrissy was a great storyteller, although she might have exaggerated a little. She used to beat up our brother David before he got bigger or stronger than her. She held the school record for the 50-yard dash one year at Redwood Valley Elementary. My sister was the GAA (Girls Athletic Association) leader at one time. My daughter Sara reminds me a lot of my sister, with her muscular build and facial features. Chrissy always had big muscles and she liked to flex them.

I remember Chrissy getting on our garage roof on Uva Drive and falling off onto an open window. She cut her knee open and said, “Wow, I can see my tendons.” It was very interesting to her.

She ran for president in junior high, maybe in the eighth grade. My dad helped her write her speech. It went something like, “Take a deep breath, and hold it till I get elected.” I think the speech helped, because she ended up winning.

Chrissy was very artistic. She loved to draw and paint as well as make necklaces. She would take apart old beaded purses and make them into beautiful necklaces. She also made paper beads. You cut a triangular piece of a magazine and rolled it up from the wide end, then glued it. I still have one that she made.

From her father José:

Christine was one of the fastest runners in school. She asked for my help with her starts. She could even outrun all the boys.

One year, she wanted to run for Student Body President, and asked for my help with a speech. I told her to make a joke out of it. So she went up on the stage, told everyone to sit back and relax, take a long deep breath, and hold it until she won. She won!

Always fighting with David, Christine was so much stronger, that she was really hurting him. He didn’t want her to know, so he would laugh. That just make her that much madder.

from her mother Gail:

Christine was born with her eyes open and looking everywhere with curiosity. She wasn’t the usual baby. She was very independent and not one to cling to her mama or anyone. She wanted to be up and moving and exploring. She was physically strong at a couple of months and was able to lift her torso up off the bed or floor! She made us laugh often because she seemed so much older than other babies her age. And she looked older, too, with a bald head except for a fringe of hair around the bottom like an old balding man. She had a wiry build with no baby fat or dimples except on her face.

As a toddler she became very blonde and pretty, keeping her same traits of curiosity and independence. She did well in school and didn’t have to work at getting good grades. She was a trendsetter always and had many friends.

Even with all these things going for her, she wasn’t always a happy person, especially during puberty and after. She was argumentative and wanted to question almost everything. She was a challenge during those days.

Because of her independent nature, we were amazed when she joined Peoples Temple and seemingly believed everything that he said and did everything she and all in the church were told to do. There was no way we could be close with her during her time in the church, because the rules were that she couldn’t visit us by herself. Someone from the church always accompanied her. We felt that she was “controlled” and monitored. That was very frustrating.

The only time she came alone, unfortunately, was the last visit before she left for Guyana. I wasn’t home. I didn’t know she was coming, so I wasn’t there. She waited several hours before leaving a note. I never saw her again.

(The Lucientes family can be reached at djsluce@wildblue.net, and welcomes any stories or recollections you may have about Christine.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on March 29th, 2021.
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