Gerald "Chris" Christensen died Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Aldersgate Village following a courageous battle with Alzheimer's.
He was born on June 20, 1937, in Denver, Colorado. His adoptive parents were Mildred and Dr. Bryant E. Christensen. He spent his early childhood in New York City where his father was a practicing physician. His family moved to Fort Bayard, New Mexico, in 1947 where, unfortunately, his father and mother passed away suddenly in 1949. He graduated from Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and then came to Kansas to attend Kansas State and Emporia State University where he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees. He met the love of his life, Karen A. Palmer at ESU and they married in 1958. He is survived by his wife, his three children, Bryan (Claudia), Eric (Kelly) and Cindee (Kyle) Williams, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His teaching and coaching career began in Whiting, Kansas. He also taught in Jamestown and Norton, before joining the staff at the Kansas State Department of Education in 1965. His career included consulting in the areas of civil defense education, physical education, and health. During his career he served as a guest lecturer for the Australian Petroleum Council and Australian Driving and Traffic Safety Center in Melbourne, Australia in 1981. He served as National President of State Supervisors of Traffic Safety for two terms and was honored to be in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Hall of Honor at Emporia State University. He retired in 1998 as the Director of School Safety Services which included motorcycle safety, bus safety, and driver education as well as the Director of Proprietary Schools.
In addition to his professional career Chris’ volunteering hours equated to another full time job - one in which he relished every moment. His activities included founding the Topeka Thunderbolt Track Club where he was volunteer head coach for 46 years. This organization provided track and field skills for hundreds of youngsters throughout Kansas with many of his athletes continuing their running careers into college and beyond. He served as the Executive Director of the Missouri Valley Track and Field Association from 1992-2006 as well as served as chairman of officials for the Missouri Valley USATF from 1992-2003. He officiated at numerous college and high school track meets throughout Kansas and Missouri and volunteered at Topeka West High School, serving on the chain crew at football games, for several years. He also enjoyed refereeing basketball.
Chris was a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church where he served on the vestry for many years. He was a Master Mason with Wellington Lodge #150 for more than 50 years, as well as a member of Scottish Rite. He enjoyed volunteering at Lowman Hill Elementary School and serving as a board member of Florence Crittenden Services. He held a private pilot’s license flying for both business and pleasure.
A Celebration of his Life will be held from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 in the Manchester Parlors at Aldersgate Village, 7220 SW Asbury Drive, Topeka, KS. A Memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at Penwell-Gabel Southwest Chapel, 3700 SW Wanamaker Road.
Private family burial will take place in Mount Hope Cemetery & Funeral Chapel.
Memorial contributions in Chris’ honor may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 3625 SW 29th St. Suite 102 Topeka, KS 66614 or to Girls on the Run, a program of the YWCA Northeast Kansas, Northeast 225 SW 12th Street Topeka, KS 66612.
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