Don Christenson

In 1929 Don Christenson was born in his parent’s bed on Minnesota farm, the third of six children. He attended a one room country school with one teacher, eight grades and 13 students.

In the 1940s Don graduated Litchfield High School as student body class president. He pitched two games in one day to win Regional Baseball Championship and was a lifetime Boy Scout. He graduated University of Minnesota, having supported himself with a Navy scholarship and as a Delta Gamma Sorority houseboy.

In the 1950s, he became an officer of the deck on Navy destroyer, then becoming a Naval attack pilot and flight instructor. It was during this time when he blessed to meet and marry a Navy nurse in Newport, Rhode Island, Joanne Logue of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Joanne was a remarkable woman, wife, nurse and mother.

The 1960s saw Don become a student and instructor at Naval War College. He was on the staff of the Atlantic Fleet during Cuban Crisis. He also went on two deployments to the western Pacific, flying A1 Skyraider. Earning a Bronze Star for his time in Vietnam. Another highlight included being the executive officer of the Apollo 13 recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima (Ship of the Year).

It was in the 70s when the last of his and Joanne’s six sons were born. He was very proud of his sons who are currently a scholar; a retired telecommunication engineer; a retired Army and VA Psychiatrist; a retired Navy Vice Admiral; a California lawyer; and a P&G executive.

Don retired as a Navy Captain while serving on Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon where he earned the Defense Superior Service Medal. He went on to teach 7th and 8th grade math/science/social studies at Sacred Heart School Coronado for 10 years as “Mr. C” during the 80s. He found that keeping 25+ kids on task and learning was a rewarding challenge.

During a poignant period, his wife Joanne died on March 16, 2000, after a seven-year struggle with cancer.

The 2000s were filled with golf, reading extensively on the human condition, and enjoying the miracle of the internet. He became the proud grandfather of nine grandchildren. In 2007, Don married beautiful and loving nurse Kathleen Murphy Spreen. She she had grown up in Brooklyn, daughter of Irish immigrants and was a widow and mother of three adult children.

From there, Don enjoyed quiet years with continued blessings.

Don died on Dec. 17, 2021. He had enjoyed 92 years of remarkable health and good fortune! His lifelong passions were self-discipline, kindness and truth.

Don leaves behind his wife, Kathleen; sons Robert (San Diego), Don (Centreville, VA), Joseph (Fort Collins, CO), John (Annapolis MD), Peter (Seattle, WA), Mark (Montgomery, OH); four brilliant and beautiful daughters-in-law; nine grandchildren; and two brothers, Neil (Bloomington, MN) and Andrew (Bucyrus, KS).

Private services have been held and a celebration of life will be held in conjunction with inurnment at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in the niche with his beloved Joanne in March 2022.

To plant a tree in memory of Don Christenson as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.