Feb. 18, 1926 - Feb. 12, 2012
John Elton Christensen, 85, of 1400 Dalles Military Road, died Feb. 12, 2012, at the Park Manor Rehabilitation Center. John Christensen was born to Herman C. and Estelle Meade Christensen in Kelso, Wash., on Feb. 18, 1926, and passed away in Walla Walla on Feb. 12, 2012, a week before his 86th birthday.
He grew up outside of Portland, attending school in St. Johns. When he was drafted into the Navy, he completed high school at Lewis and Clark in Spokane by commuting from the Naval Base at Farragut, Idaho.
On April 21, 1946, he married Barbara Beryl DeFord in Spokane. They worked on the family farm at Spangle, before a move to Angwin, Calif., where John graduated in 1953 with a B.A. in theology from Pacific Union College. He taught at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle, until a move to Palmer, Alaska, in 1958 where he taught elementary school and served as local church pastor. While living in Alaska, Mr. Christensen began his 37-year career as a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska's Bristol Bay.
After returning to Oregon in 1964, Mr. Christensen taught school at Tualatin Valley Jr. Academy in Beaverton before completing his master's degree in education at Walla Walla College in 1968. Subsequently, he taught at Milo Academy in Canyonville, Ore., and elementary schools in Scappoose, Ore., and Salmon, Idaho. He spent several years working in various locations - at Sanctuary Ranch, a wilderness school in British Columbia; at Circle Hot Springs, Alaska, a year-round resort lodge and at Talkeetna, Alaska. In 1984, he purchased a large ranch at Colville, Wash., and founded an alternative school to serve troubled teens, which he and his wife operated for a number of years until they returned to the Walla Walla area in 2001.
Mr. Christensen is survived by two daughters and a son-in-law, Shirley Heisey of Walla Walla, Cheri and John Armstrong of Athena; and a son and daughter-in-law, Stan and Debbie Christensen of Walla Walla. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Myron Royce Christensen and Arthur Merlin Christensen.
Two memorial services will be held. The first service will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2:30 p.m. at his beloved Dayton Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1525 S. Fourth St., with Pastor Leland Hawes officiating. A second service will be held Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. in Walla Walla at Park Plaza Retirement Center which was his home. Memorial contributions may be made to Gospel Outreach through the Herring-Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St., Walla Walla. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com. xx