Delbert Leslie Christensen, son of Mads and Minnie (Warp) Christensen passed away Sunday morning November 10, 2013, in Tucson, Ariz. Delbert was born on Dec. 18, 1913 at Minden, Neb. on the Kristensen homestead.
Delbert married Ruth Louise Koch on June 10, 1944 and they had four children, Ruth Ingrid, Connie Jo, Mark and David. Delbert and Ruth raised their family in Elmhurst, Ill., from 1950 to 1985 and were active enthusiastic members of their community.
Ruth attended a writer’s workshop in 1970 at the American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wis. and soon became smitten with the atmosphere of the ABA grounds and surrounding area, convincing Del to retire there in the early 1980’s. Wonderful friendships with neighbors, fellow ABA volunteers, and ABA staff soon followed. Ruth and Del’s farm became a welcome haven for all, including family from out west, Chicago friends, and local kids feeding apples to the sheep. Age was never an issue as many of their closest friends were half their age. Winters were spent in Tucson where they enjoyed Ingrid’s growing family and the warm weather.
Delbert, a lifelong rock hound, was soon a fixture at the ABA lapidary shop where he continued to volunteer on a daily basis until he quit driving at the age of 97. A grove of 100 year old American chestnut trees near the golf course captured his attention, and soon Del had another hobby: gathering nuts and raising chestnut seedlings in his greenhouse to re-establish the majestic tree nearly wiped out by blight in the 1800s. Del was featured in numerous newspaper stories and became a ready resource for local programs. His trees can be found all over Green Lake County.
Summer at the farm meant a steady stream of kids, grandkids, and friends, which after Ruth’s death in 2001 provided companionship and physical assistance that allowed Del to live at home until he was 99. His life was enriched by the wonderful community of Green Lake. Delbert was a thoughtful man of impeccable honor and a quiet energy that earned respect. He and Ruth were a great team that touched and brightened many lives.
Delbert spent his early childhood in Minden Neb. before the family moved to a ranch in Bassett, Neb. in 1923. He graduated from Rock County High School in 1931 and immediately started teaching in the local rural grade school. He spent 2 years at Kearney State College before enrolling at University of Nebraska, receiving his Bachelors degree in 1939 and Masters degree in Math in 1941. Summers were spent hauling ice by day and doing accounting work at night.
In Dec. of 1941, Delbert accepted an appointment to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and moved to Philadelphia. He spent the WWII years investigating federal crimes and espionage in the Eastern United States.
Following the war Delbert and Ruth moved to Chicago where he joined Flex-O-Glass, INC, an early plastics manufacturer. Innovation and loyalty were cornerstones at Flex-O-Glass where Del worked for 49 years, serving as president for 15 of those years. In addition, he was a section director of the Society of Plastics Engineers from 1968-1970.
Lifelong bonds of friendship started in modest apartments of Chicago carried out into the suburbs as families grew and careers progressed. Handball at the Austin YMCA was boy’s night out for 35 years. Many of these friends continued to visit Del and Ruth in Green Lake after their retirement.
Survivors include children, Ruth Ingrid Christensen Laurie of Tucson, Ariz., Connie Jo Christensen (John) Blumthal of Portland, Ore., Mark Alan Christensen of Salt Lake City, Utah, and David Lars (Julie) Christensen of Park City, Utah; grandchildren, Yetive Ruth Laurie (Larry Ruhf), Adam Laurie, Zander Laurie, Stephen A Shepro (Kathleen Hanson), Amy Jo Shepro (Tim) Tanous, John “Chris” Blumthal, Eric Christensen, Laurel Christensen, and Bryan Christensen; great-grandchildren, Gwyneth, Penny, and Ryan. His wife Ruth, parents, and siblings Archie, Helen, Bud and Robert preceded him in death.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 8, 2013 at The Federated Church of Green Lake, 489 Scott Street Green Lake, WI 54941 with The Rev. Karen Rodriguez officiating. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Federated Church Memorial Fund in Delbert’s name.