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Paul Allen Christensen

August 27, 1940 June 8, 2017
Paul Allen Christensen
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Obituary for Paul Allen Christensen

Celebration of Life Open House will be held at Paul and Mollie’s house on Saturday, July 22, 2017 from 11 am to 3 pm. Please park at St. Philips Lutheran Church, 7531 S Kendall Blvd. A car shuttle will be running between this location to the cul-de-sac, as there is extremely limited parking by the house. If you desire to walk, it is .3 miles. If you do not know the home address, please send an email to pax10sen@gmail.com and it will be provided.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Make A Wish Foundation (see below for address under MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS)

Paul was going through chemotherapy, we decided to transcribe his life stories and memories to pass them on to our children and grandchildren. The following is what he related to me, as a “life well lived”.

Mollie


Born August 27, 1940 to Harry William and Blanche Elaine Christensen in Nebraska City, Nebraska, at St. Mary’s Hospital. Paul has one sister; Patricia Lou, who married James (Jim) Wiseman on June 17, 1951. They have one daughter Dianna Kim born, June 19, 1952. Paul attended Second Avenue Grade School, Nebraska City Junior High and Nebraska City Senior High. Due to the small student population, some senior high classes were in the junior high including band, choir, wood/metal shop, and college prep math. Paul lived at 1104 4th Avenue from the time he was a small child through high school. His phone number was 1210.

In junior high school Paul was in the Sr High band, Jr high football and basketball. He played Coronet from 4-12th grade and was 1st chair coronet/trumpet as a senior. He was a skinny, little runt (small for his age). In third grade, his teacher, Ms. Lillian Hanks, would give him 15 cents to go to Wurtle’s to get an egg salad sandwich for her. His best friends were Larry Cole, John Christensen, Nick Nelson, and Jack Vondrak (the fab five). Amazingly, at 76 they are still his good friends.

In senior high, Paul earned four letters in track, three in football, and three in basketball. In track, he ran the mile and ½ mile. In his freshman year, he severely separated his right shoulder and missed most of the football season and the part of basketball season. In football, he played mostly defensive back. As a senior, he played center and middle linebacker at a whopping 142 pounds. In football, his senior year, they only lost one game. Falls City beat them on Homecoming in the first week of October 1957, 16-7. During the game, Paul’s cousin John, hit Paul and broke his nose. As a result, throughout his life he never could breathe out of one side of his nose. Maybe Paul was thinking of his wife who was being born that week and wasn’t paying attention. From his position as middle linebacker, Paul scored two touchdowns during that year - one a blocked punt and the other a fumble.

Paul was a guard/forward in basketball. His highest scoring game was 16 points against Blair, Nebraska. Their senior year, during the first game of the district playoffs they beat Crete 51-40. Crete was supposed to win the state. Paul scored 8 points in the game. Previously Crete, on their home floor during seasonal play, had beaten them 56-29. So, it was quite a feat to beat them in the district playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost in to Falls City in the district finals, crushing Paul’s dreams to make it to state.

He was in band, trumpet trio, trumpet brass octet, and played some solos at competition. He thinks his coronet cost around $350, a true fortune back in the 1950’s. He was in choir, inner choir, madrigal singers, and sang a solo for national world day of prayer which was held at the high school. He also sang duets with Angela Hickman! Academically, he made National Honor Society in his Junior year and retained it throughout his Senior year. This was an honor as a junior as it was a selection by the facility, not just given by grades. In his senior year, he was president of the Youth Center, named “Fort Teen”. It was in an old log Fort, hence the play on the name. In high school, Paul knew he wanted to become an engineer. Paul truly loved his high school experience. He participated in so many activities and he also excelled scholastically. It was a very wonderful and memorable time in his life.

At the end of his senior year he received a regent scholarship to the University of Nebraska for about $120. It paid for his tuition for his entire freshman year at the University of Nebraska. He also was offered a scholarship at Peru State Teachers College. They wanted him to run the 1 and 2 mile for them. He turned it down, as they did not have an Engineering program.
Paul went to University of Nebraska from 1958-1963. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He pledged Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity in 1958. Many of his pledge class brothers have remained lifelong friends. Later in life they would get together for reunions every year and continue to have amazing times. He was also in ROTC the entire four years of college which resulted in a two-year commitment to the army after graduation and a commission as a second Lieutenant. In his freshman year, he played on the intermural hockey team and was selected to the all university intermural hockey team. From his sophomore through senior years he worked as a busboy at the Phi Psi fraternity and a year at Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house. Although this paid no money, it did have the benefit of having all his meals supplied by the house he was working for at the time. During his fourth year, his grades were such that he was inducted into Phi Tau Sigma (Mechanical Engineering Honor Society). For his fifth year of college he had to move out of the Phi Psi house. He moved to an apartment with fraternity brothers Enis Alldredge, Rusty Clark and later Denny Holmes. Since he was no longer on campus, his Grandma Shelton bought him a 1953 Ford for $150.00. When he graduated, he bought a 1960 Chevy Bellaire and gave the Ford to his parents. That was the first car his parents ever owned!! His first trip in the Chevy was to drive his Uncle Harold, Aunt Betty and cousin Jim to North Platte for his cousin Johns’ wedding. When he went into the Army he gave his parents the Chevy.

After graduation, Paul initially thought he would become an automation engineer. He applied to numerous companies but also applied for other engineering disciplines. He ended up accepting a job at The Glenn L. Martin Company in Denver, Colorado, for a great salary of around $7,000 dollars a year. He worked there for approximately seven months before he had to exercise his Army commitment. During those seven months he was a propulsion component engineer which included generating and maintaining specifications for aerospace components. After working for three months he received a raise due to his ability to make such a great contribution to the program at such an early stage of employment. With his own money in his pocket for the first time, he spent a great deal of time in the local bars and dating numerous women.

In the Army, he was sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for officers training in Air Defense Missiles. He traveled across the Atlantic to his assignment on the USS Upsur. While on the ship, he was the compartment commander which housed 270 men. This duty included making sure none of his charges fell overboard. Initially he was assigned to go to Kaiserslautern, Germany. However, on the last day on ship his orders changed to Vimme Kasern in Friezing, Germany. He was assigned to the 69th Artillery Group – part of the Seventh Army. Upon returning to Germany in 2013, he found out this area is now a housing subdivision. Friezing was known for having the Weihenstephan Abbey, the oldest beer brewery in the world, initially making beer in 1040. His duties in the Army included being the crew chief officer for a unit that monitored the readiness status of two battalions of Tomahawk missiles. He was also the supply officer and the athletic and recreation officer. Their basketball team won the championship of all the US teams at the facility, thanks to two privates, one who was drafted to play professional ball and the other who had played at the University of Kentucky. The All-star team got an all-expenses paid trip to Garmisch, Germany, for a tournament with other military teams. Unfortunately, they didn’t win, but it was a great week of leave.

While in Germany, he met Sandra (Sandy) Grymonprez. She was a secretary at the officer’s club. On June 23, 1966, they were married at Fort Lee, Virginia, as her dad was stationed there. Paul and Sandy set up residence in a small apartment at 5954 S. Datura in Littleton, Colorado. They lived there from 1966 – May 1970. Upon returning to Colorado, Paul returned to work at the Glenn L. Martin Company. While he was in the army, the Martin company had a large reduction in the work force. Had Paul been there during that time, he might have been laid off. However, they had to reinstate him due to his military commitment. His assignments were propulsion analysis and POGO testing, which was a combination of the frequency system and the fluid system with the structural system. Sometime in late 1968, early 1969, he moved to working in Thermal Analysis. He performed correlations between the thermal math model and test data for the Titan III transtage. He also did prelaunch analysis and testing of the air conditioning systems for the Titan III payload fairing/satellite. As a result, multiple configurations of the air distribution system were developed and flown on numerous Titan III flights. One of the configurations continued to evolve and continued to be used on Titan 34D and Titan IV. After that, he worked on the Apollo Telescope mount, a part of Skylab. This involved extensive testing in Houston, at their vacuum chamber.

Sandy became pregnant in the winter of 1966. During her pregnancy, she craved Taco House, which was just down the street. As a side note, Chris, their son, still craves Taco House!! On July 30, 1967, Sandy and Paul had twin sons at 11:11 and 11:17am. Christopher Mark and Scott Allen were born premature by six weeks. They weighed 4lbs, 12oz. Unfortunately, Scott had complications. Scott had highland membrane (a coating over the lungs which keeps the lungs from oxygenating). He passed away 1 day after birth. This was an extremely difficult time for Sandy and Paul. Chris was in the hospital for 16 days until he could go home. They fed him by gavage, as he would not take a bottle. The summer after the birth, Paul was supposed to go to Reserve camp. The Reserve Unit commander allowed him not to have to go. He didn’t go the next year either. Paul was in the Army reserve for three years. During this time, Paul was playing softball and basketball on the Martin intermural teams. In basketball, the league administrator asked Sandy where Paul had played in college. Quite a compliment!

At the end of May 1970, they moved to their first house in Bear Valley. On August 16, 1971, Stacey Lynn was born. All the nurses nicknamed her “banjo eyes”. In 1971, Paul became the lead thermal engineer for the Titan program. In this position, he did the analysis to ensure all the avionics would fly within their thermal limits. He also developed an air distribution system to cool the radio isotope thermal electric generators, prior to launch, that were part of the satellites launched on Titan III. Without this system, the satellites would have been non-viable. In May 1976, they moved to S Marshall Ct. A brand-new house, painted bright blue with brown trim. The house was painted red (Paul and Stacey’s choice) as soon as finances allowed. Paul worked very hard on the garden and yard, including putting up the fence, pouring all the cement edging and with his Dad’s help, extending the back patio. With every bonus Paul received over the years he bought a new tree to plant in the yard. During these years, Paul worked the PIC (Payload Integration Contract) proposal, which they won. He then went to work on DSCS (Defense Satellite Communications System) as a Payload Integrator for Titan. In March of 1978, the Christensen family went to Florida. Part of the trip was to watch DSCS launch. Unfortunately, the launch was ultimately a failure. They went to Disneyworld and spent all the rest of the days on the beach. In February 1979, Paul’s Mom; Blanche (Gram), passed away. The family flew back to Nebraska for the service. This was an especially tough time for Paul. Paul changed positions in this time frame and went to work on PIC/MISC Integration supporting the satellite (NASA) side versus the Titan side of efforts. Even though, Paul spent a great deal of time at work and traveling, he never missed a soccer or baseball game that his kids participated in. During this time of his life he and Sandy participated in Fiasco, Friends of the Library, and supporting the Littleton Museum, among other things.

This was all of Paul’s memories that he related to Mollie. We hoped to finish this while he was in the immunology trial but unfortunately that did not come to fruition. The following are the family’s words.

Paul continued to work at Lockheed Martin for 42 1/2years. He was an integral part of the Payload Integration Team on Titan IV and Titan II. His contributions to national security were immense. He was recognized not only by Lockheed Martin but was also singled out by the customer for recognition numerous times. He supported many of the launches at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base on the go no-go launch teams. He also was proposal manager for follow-on contracts and an integral part of the negotiation teams. Paul was extremely proud of his accomplishments, even though few knew of their enormity.

On January 28, 1989, Paul and Mollie were married and Kris (age 5) and Kameron (age 2) joined the Christensen Family. Paul and Mollie were married for 28 ½ wonderful years. We were so fortunate to have a cohesive blended family even though there was a big gap in ages. As our granddaughter, Sarah, will tell you, “There are no “steps” in this family”. The entire family spent numerous vacations together enjoying each other’s company, which was very important to Paul. Paul and Mollie also traveled to Iceland, twice to Europe, and enjoyed Hawaii numerous times. Most of the yearly family vacations were spent in Minnesota. Paul truly loved time at the cottages fishing and boating on Sunset Lake (Michigan), Lake Clitherall, and Big Portage. Paul also took eight “trips of a lifetime” to Alaska to fish. These trips were a lifetime dream of his. Paul and Mollie spent most of the years happily watching soccer and lacrosse games. During these years their oldest son Chris, married Debbie Goetz, their oldest daughter Stacey, married Shawn Nelson, their youngest son Kris, married Jessica Kearns, and their youngest daughter Kameron married, Daniel Ritz (nee Maglietta). They also were blessed with eight grandchildren; Landon, Sarah, Lane, Tanner, Ty, Logan, Mary and Kassidi. Nine days after Paul’s passing, he was blessed to have a new granddaughter; Katie, by marriage to Landon. Paul was an amazing husband, dad, and grandpa.

Upon retirement, Paul continued to give his attention to his beautiful yard, fishing, and golf. He worked in his garden daily and made sure that his family, friends, and neighbors were supplied with fresh vegetables from his endeavors. His yard was his pride and joy. Any visitor to the house was always given a tour. Paul enjoyed playing golf and played 27 holes in two days, 29 days before he passed. He did get a hole-in-one at Raccoon Creek during his playing time. He loved to fish, no matter whether it was in Colorado, Alaska, or Minnesota. Paul enjoyed life, his marriage, his kids and all that life brought him. He would tell Mollie often that “he had a great life”. What he didn’t know was that all who knew him were the lucky ones!!


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Previous Events

Graveside

Monday

14

Jan

10:00 AM 1/14/2019 10:00:00 AM - 10:30 AM 1/14/2019 10:30:00 AM
Fort Logan National Cemetery

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80235

Please meet at Staging area A by 9:50 AM for procession to Shelter A at 10:00 AM. PLEASE JOIN THE FAMILY FOLLOWING THE SERVICE AT FT. LOGAN FOR A RECEPTION FROM 11:00 AM UNTIL 2:00 PM AT THE PEAK COMMUNITY CENTER, 6612 South Ward Street, Littleton, Colorado 80127.

Fort Logan National Cemetery
3698 South Sheridan Boulevard Denver 80235 Colorado
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Fort Logan National Cemetery Final Resting Place

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80235

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard Denver 80235 Colorado
United States

Memorial Contribution

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado

7951 East Maplewood Avenue, Suite 126
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
In Paul's memory.
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