Obituary: Evart ‘Chris’ Christensen, 92, of Concord, Cali., formerly of Scottville.

January 5, 2022

Evart Christensen

Obituary: Evart ‘Chris’ Christensen, 92, of Concord, Cali., formerly of Scottville.

Evart Wayne “Chris” Christensen, 92, passed away on Thursday December 16, 2021 at home in Concord, Cali.  He was born July 2, 1929 to Carl and Eva (Pirtle) Christensen in Scottville.  He attended school in Scottville’s kindergarten through 12th grade building.  He was vice president of his eighth grade class, often on the honor roll, a Boy Scout as well as a safety patrol observer for the World War II US Army Air Corps Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) where he manned an observation post to search the skies for Japanese bombers in Michigan. 

He learned to play the harmonica, the Hawaiian guitar and Ukulele and enjoyed singing. He was known to serenade couples on hayrides in the area (much to his dates dismay). He worked at his Uncle Bert’s “Pirtle & Allen” blacksmith shop helping to sharpen lawn mower blades and other odd jobs. His two uncles, Bert and Alva, both pranksters, would send him to the hardware store to ask for items that didn’t really exist. He and Uncle Alva always tried to pull off April Fool’s Day jokes. In his youth, he enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping, searching for arrowheads, and raising rabbits.  

He graduated from Scottville High School with the Class of ’47 where he played on the football, basketball, track, and baseball teams. He was honorary captain of the football team his senior year. He reminisced that the basketball coach said, “If you and (another player) can make three points together in a game, I’ll buy you a steak dinner”. He never got that dinner.  He was proud of the year the track team placed third but was quick to tell you with a grin “There were only three schools”.  He played shortstop for the Lundquist Furniture softball team under manager Waite All.  He was president of the sophomore class, vice president of the senior class, and was an active member of the SHS Alumni Association.

He received his bachelor of science from Michigan State College (1951).  He was a member of Alpha Phi Omega and Pi Kappa Phi fraternities there. He worked while attending college.  One fond memory he had of his undergrad days was a huge snowball fight with another dorm where he was quite possibly pelting his future brother-in-law, Gary Crawford. He served as substitute postal carrier for Scottville which required 14 miles of walking per day to deliver mail to the town folk twice a day. 

He started his master’s program at Indiana University in 1951 but, in July 1952, he contracted polio and spent nine months in the hospital and three weeks in an iron lung.  During his hospital stay, his future wife, Suzanne, gave him a model ship to build – a hobby he continued up until his death and bestowing them on all the family members and a few friends. Her senior photo adorned his hospital wall. He returned to the University of Indiana and completed his master’s in geology from the University of Indiana (1955) and worked at Indiana Geological Survey while completing his final course. At UI he belonged to Sigma Gamma Epsilon. 

He married his longtime sweetheart, Suzanne (Crawford) on June 19, 1954 in the home parlor of her parents, Don and Olga “Jerry” Crawford.  The same place and by the same minister who had married Suzanne’s parents.  Their best man and maid of honor were Clayton “Bug” Spencer and Carole Van Allsburg who met at the wedding and the next year married with roles reversed.

He was recruited by Standard Oil of California as a micro-paleontologist and moved to Bakersfield, Cali.  They had many happy times there and made life-long friends especially the Paleo Team and the neighbors of Cromwell Court.  He sang with coworkers in a barbershop group “The Sub Standards”. He enjoyed many BBQ and block parties with his good friends and neighbors of Cromwell Court and playing pinochle with the guys (except when Dick passed 9’s). He served on the Boy Scouts of America Council and was den “mother” for his son, Adam’s, Cub Scout troop. His family saw most of the National Parks and Monuments between California and Michigan on summer travels home to visit grandparents.

In 1971, he was transferred to the San Francisco office where he caught the 5:20 a.m. BART train or carpooled into the city. There he started work using a scanning electron microscope which became his focus for the remainder of his career. He retired in 1986 after 32 years with the company. 

After retirement, he volunteered at the Lindsey Museum, the Markham Arboretum, and taught ESL students.  He helped map the trees and plants at the Markham Arboretum. The Japanese Garden Arch, the pergola and patio pavers were part of his contribution along with his sons Paul and Adam as well as his grandson Eric’s Eagle Scout project of an Owl box. He planted many seeds and saplings to sell at the annual Arboretum plant sale. He visited the wine country with Suzanne and their friends as well as trips home to Michigan and to other places to see friends and family.

He enjoyed gardening, playing ping pong and cribbage with his children, photography, wood working, model ship building and shell collecting. He made many articles of furniture for his house. He started wood carving classes and created many beautiful relief carvings as well as Santa’s for each grandchild. He became a Golden State Warrior fan and was a San Francisco 49er faithful to the end. Although physically handicapped by his bout with polio, he did more than many of the fathers around him. He was an amazingly strong and independent person.

His love of family was deep, and he enjoyed nothing better than having them visit especially for Christmas.  He truly loved his grandchildren. Many a grand rode on his lap in his wheelchair or caught football or frisbee throws.  He had a keen wit and loved to tease. He was loved and respected by family, friends, coworkers, nurses, and hospice aides. Throughout any illness or in his last days, he rarely complained: stoic, quiet, and determined to live and die as he wanted.  He passed peacefully in his own home. Per his request, there will be no funeral service.  Donations may be made to Suncrest Hospice 42808 Christy Street Suite 216 Fremont, CA 94538.

He is preceded in death by his parents Carl and Eva Christensen, Uncle Alva and Ruth Pirtle, Cousin Art and Mildred Pirtle, Aunt Dagmar (Hansen), Aunt Ida (Andersen), Uncle Arthur; Cromwell friends: Dick and Mary Bradshaw, Joe and Rusty Lopez, Ruby and Bill Ellis, Joy Sylvester; most of his high school classmates and co-workers. 

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Suzanne; his children: Paul, Sara, Adam; 11 grandchildren: Dana, Mari, Eric, Natalie, Jean-Paul, Anthony, Katie, Kelsey, Konor, Corey, Jake; and four great-grandchildren (so far). He will be greatly missed and remembered fondly by all who knew him. 

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