Stevens has family ties to Western Washington. His sister is a doctor at Seattle Children's Hospital and his cousin lives in the Puget Sound region.
"Chris was a great guy, very smart, funny, dedicated, respected and he was just a class act; all around good guy," said Joe Brown, Stevens' cousin. "He just felt like he should be over there in the Middle East. He was drawn to it and he was doing what he wanted to do and what he loved doing."
Stevens, 52, and three other Americans were killed when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob armed with guns and rocket propelled grenades.
Brown said Stevens really cared about the people there and was there to try to help.
"It's a sad day for his whole family," Brown said. "There's shock and sadness and a lot of tears. There's been an outpouring of support and prayers and we're all very thankful for that."
Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in an attack since 1979, when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in Afghanistan.
Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.
Stevens joined the Foreign Service in 1991 and spent his early State Department career at posts in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Israel. After working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Stevens was posted to Libya as deputy chief of mission.
His State Department biography, posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy to Libya, says he "considers himself fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope for Libya."
Children's Hospital released a statement Wednesday on behalf of Stevens' sister:
"Dr. Anne Stevens is deeply saddened by the tragic death of her brother U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. She and her family request that you respect their privacy at this time."
Brown was asked how Dr. Stevens was doing:
"She's upset but she knows that he was doing what he loved and knew what at the risks were but that's what he wanted to be doing."