SOUTH PORTLAND — The license plate on Christopher Black’s SUV reads: GOD&AA.

For more than two years, he was a sober and active member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

During his recovery, Mr. Black excelled at his job and became a manager at Uno Chicago Grill in South Portland. He worked hard to create a better life for himself and his two children. He also dedicated most of his free time to helping others who, like him, suffered from alcoholism.

“AA gave him back his faith and his life,” his mother, Barbara Black-Tomblinson said in a shaky, soft-spoken voice on Wednesday. “It meant everything to him. He believed in A.A. and was always willing to help anyone that needed the help. He knew how it helped him.”

Mr. Black died early Wednesday when the SUV he was driving veered off of Interstate 295 in Falmouth, rolled over and came to a stop about 100 yards into the woods. He was ejected from his vehicle and died from his injuries at the scene. He was 42.

Around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, two state troopers appeared at the door of his mother’s home in South Portland to break the news that her only living son had died.

“You sort of feel like ice is running through your veins,” she said. “He was all I had left. It’s a strange feeling to be a childless mother.”

Mr. Black’s two children, Christopher Black Jr., 24, of South Portland, and Haley Black, 15, of Tampa, Fla., are now left without their father.

Mr. Black’s family and friends struggled to understand how a man who had touched so many lives, and who had so much to live for, could die so tragically.

Dozens of his friends posted messages on Facebook expressing shock and overwhelming sadness.

Amy Fisher, of Cape Elizabeth, a friend for the past 20 years, sobbed Wednesday morning after learning that Black had died. Fisher said he was a caring, loving and sensitive guy who had many friends and was well-respected in Portland’s recovery community.

“I loved him a lot,” she said. “I’ll miss his sense of humor. He always made me laugh. He made me laugh till I couldn’t breathe.”

Chris Lawson, of Brunswick, said Mr. Black was a great friend.

“He was always there for me,” Lawson said. “He was always willing to go to extra lengths to help you out. I’m really going to miss him.”

Black’s Facebook page says he graduated from Westbrook High School in 1987. He loved ’80s rock bands like Motley Crue, ACDC, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. He was also a fan of the Boston Red Sox and a “die-hard” New England Patriots fan.

He worked at Uno Chicago Grill for the past four years or so. He started there as a server and rose through the ranks to become a trainer and shift supervisor. He was most recently a manager. Another manager said he was well-liked by the staff and their regular customers. Mr. Black worked Tuesday night, the night before the accident.

None of his family or friends knows why Mr. Black was driving north on Interstate 295 at the time of the accident, which occurred around 2:30 a.m.

Mr. Black’s family talked openly Wednesday about his longtime struggle with alcoholism and depression, and his recent period of sobriety.

Black-Tomblinson said her son was sober for the past two years. He regularly went to AA meetings and worked with other recovering alcoholics, she said.

“Knowing how many people’s lives he touched means the world to me,” she said. “Just knowing that he made a difference in someone’s life makes me so proud.”

Mr. Black’s son lived with him at his home on Cannon Road for the past five months or so. He said he was close to his father and considered him a friend. He remembered the day his father celebrated two years of sobriety in AA.

“I was happy to see him celebrate,” his son said. “It was a blessing. He was a whole different person I knew from my childhood. Even in his hard times, he was always still trying to be the best he could.”

Family members say Mr. Black had stopped going to AA meetings in recent months. His son said he picked up alcohol again about a month ago.

His friends said Mr. Black was planning to pick up a white chip at his AA home group, which meets Wednesday nights. A white chip symbolizes a willingness to abstain from alcohol and other substances and start a new way of life.

“He had some struggles recently,” his mother said. “When guys he worked with had slips, Chris would say all you have to do is get your white chip and start again. That’s what he was prepared do.”

Look for Mr. Black’s full obituary in Friday’s newspaper.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]