Remembering Ken Christensen – A Tribute to Papa
Kenneth L. Christensen, 91 who resided in Cumming, GA and Mishawaka, IN, passed away on October 19, 2020 after a brief battle with prostate cancer. Ken was born June 4, 1929, to Louis and Ella Christensen in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin where he spent all of his childhood.
If ever there was a man who loved to linger with friends, it was Ken. A friend at church said of him…
“I will never forget the strength of his handshake and the way he would grab your hand with both of his hands when shaking your hand – and the way he would make eye contact. He always gave the impression that saying hello to you was the most important thing he was doing at that moment. It was always a joy to see him come into the building.”
He began his 62 year marriage and daily courtship of his wife Eleanor H. Weidner, on July 25, 1954 and left a legacy of faithfulness for his children and grandchildren to learn from. If ever there was a man committed to his marriage vows and devoted to his wife, it was Ken.
After 13 years of marriage, Ken and Ellie adopted Anne and then Sarah. We grew up with this sense of privilege knowing we were not just any daughters; we were chosen. Ken made everyone he met feel chosen and important.
He is survived by his daughters, Anne-Marie (and husband Steve) Huffman of Mishawaka, Indiana, and Sarah-Elizabeth Nix of Cumming, Georgia along with his grandchildren, Benjamin (and Chelsea), Jonathan, and Jackson Henry Huffman and Zachary and Jacob Nix.
Ken graduated from Lincoln High School (Wisconsin Rapids, WI) in 1947 and went on to the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with a Major in Accounting. After two years of professional work he volunteered in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict for a four year period of service. His Navy career took him to California for training as a Disbursing Clerk and he then was sent on to Pensacola, Florida.
After his short military career he went back to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and earned his Master of Business Administration degree, again with a Major in Accounting. After graduation he worked in Madison with the Wisconsin Department of Taxation before he secured a position of Tax Manager with the Nekoosa Edwards Paper Company, Port Edwards, Wisconsin. His career in accounting then took him to the position of Tax Manger of the A. O. Smith Corporation located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After this eleven year career he was hired by the Kimberly Clark Corporation located in Neenah, Wisconsin. He was working as a Staff Member of their Tax Department, in Neenah, until he accepted a position of Payroll Tax Manager for Kimberly Clark and was then sent to Roswell, Georgia. His work at Kimberly Clark then sent him to Knoxville, Tennessee where he retired.
In 2016 he moved to Mishawaka, IN where he lived with Anne’s family so he could concentrate on caring for his beloved Ellie, who was ill. After Ellie passed on July 5, 2016, Ken spent his remaining years splitting his time between his daughter’s homes, enjoying grandchildren, church and friends. In Indiana he loved to attend the Vineyard Church, made the choice to be baptized, attend Bible classes, and visit shut-ins, all of whom were younger that he was! Always a farmer at heart, he’d watch the farmers plant and harvest each season with his grandchildren on the porch, occasionally taking a ride in a combine with a neighbor and mowing the five acre lawn. In Georgia, he enjoyed spending time with Sarah and her friends. He was her date for the company Christmas party every year and was loved by her co-workers. He enjoyed watching the old shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Columbo” with his cats, and was always up for travel adventures with trips to Arizona, Massachusetts, and Knoxville.
Ken cherished moments with family and friends and taught valuable lessons to us all about how to stay connected with people. We joked that his “job” in retirement was to write cards and letters to encourage others. He did it daily and you may receive one he’s written and stashed for a special date even after his passing. Ken never ran out of smiles and neither will we when we remember our moments with him. We are all blessed to have called him friend and Dad, but toward the end of his life, most just knew him as “Papa”.
Ken taught us many things through the example of his life. He was devoted, consistent, faithful to God and family, kind, valued hard work, and was never in a hurry! He loved to tell stories and often laughed at them as he did, which made everyone else laugh! If you had a story, he’d want to hear that too. He never wanted to miss a detail. As he neared death, we talked of the many stories he hadn’t yet heard about his life, the details he never realized and how he would discover the impact he really had on those he stopped to say hello to along the way when he got to heaven. We were all blessed to see a rare example of loving father, faithful friend and devoted husband in Ken’s life example. It’s hard to say goodbye but we know a treasure has gone home to heaven. After a long life journey we are left with a legacy of memories that will keep us focused on what is important in this short time we have here.
Ken was preceded in death by both his parents, Ella and Louis Christensen, by his sister Cornelia Alft and by his brother in law, Carl Alft and his granddaughter Elizabeth Joy Huffman.
Thank you Dad. We love you. We’re thankful for you. We’ll miss you and we’re happy for you to have time to enjoy Jesus, friends and family who are celebrating your homecoming in heaven. We can smile knowing you will find out how very much you were and are loved.
In closing, a burial service will be held at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Clinton, Massachusetts with his family in Early November. A celebration of life will take place in the spring in Mishawaka, IN.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Lutheran Church, 1207 Broadway NE, Knoxville, TN 37917, The Vineyard Church, 16219 Jackson Rd., Mishawaka, IN 46544, or to Trinity Lutheran Church, 117 Chase Street, Clinton, MA 01510.
Condolences may be expressed at www.mcdonaldandson.com.
Arrangements by McDonald and Son Funeral Home, 150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, GA 30040 (770) 886.9899
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