J. Gordon Christianson, 94, of Rochester, passed away peacefully on Friday, February 19, 2021, at the Charter House home he loved.
Gordon was born August 12, 1926, in Scarville, IA, to John and Alice (Peterson) Christianson. He was proud to have grown up on Iowa farms and loved to return to the area often. He graduated as valedictorian from Scarville High School in 1944 and attended Luther College in Decorah, IA until he was drafted into the Navy in June 1945; serving until August 1946, due to the end of WW ll. Shortly after returning to and then graduating from Luther College in 1949, Gordon married the love of his life, Agnes, with whom he spent 63 wonderful years. Both were teachers and started their careers in Ledyard, IA, (1949-53) where Gordon began his school administration career as a Principal before obtaining his Master's Degree from Drake University and beginning classes towards his doctorate. Gordon held Superintendent positions in Seneca, IA, Grafton, IA, St.Ansgar, IA, and lastly North Winneshiek School near Decorah, IA for twenty years. He then managed apartments for his good friend Luther Professor Weston Noble for ten years until finally retiring.
Gordon was a dedicated servant to his community, church, family and his beloved Luther College. He spent decades on the Luther College Alumni Council and received the Luther Distinguished Service Award. He belonged to the Lions Club for thirty-eight years and spent fourteen years in officer roles for his Lutheran Brotherhood Chapter. One of his greatest passions was his involvement as President of the Decorah-Valdres Norway Student Exchange Program, where over 250 students from Decorah and Valdres experienced each other's cultures over twenty-five years. He made many trips to Norway to see these friends including Johanna Fuglesteg, a student who had spent a year in their home. His involvement in church was of great importance to him, including Good Shepherd Lutheran in Decorah and Zumbro Lutheran in Rochester, where he was active in bible study, men's group, senior club, and volunteering in the kitchen making lefse for the annual holiday bazaar. His final volunteer service was at the Mayo Clinic Heritage Museum where he cherished his position as a guide to visitors from all over the world even into his 90's!
Gordon is survived by daughter Marcia (Charles) Mahlman and daughter Mary (James) Hansen, both of Rochester. He adored his five grandchildren and two great grandchildren including Jennifer (Erik) Richardson and daughters Lina and Emme of Bend, OR, Andrew Brumm of Santa Monica, CA, and Amanda, Matthew and Lizzy Hansen all of Rochester. The family had video calls together up until five days before he passed, which he greatly looked forward to. He is also survived by his sister Donna (Rev. Clarence) Baalson of Clear Lake, IA, sister-in-law Ethel Christianson of Forest City, IA, and nieces, nephews, and cousins that he so loved. He was preceded in death by his wife Agnes, daughter Joan, brother Paul Christianson and parents and numerous other friends from across the world.
Visitation will be from 11:30AM-1:00 PM followed by a memorial service at 1:00 PM, Friday, August 13, at Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester. A reception will follow. Burial will be on Saturday, August 14 in Scarville, IA. Per the CDC's latest guidance, we thank you for helping keep our community safe by masking indoors. The family wishes to thank the caregivers at Charter House Assisted Living for their loving care! Memorials can be directed to Zumbro Lutheran Church- Rochester MN, Luther College in Decorah, IA, or Brighter Tomorrows, Inc., a nonprofit serving families facing childhood cancer. Well done, good and faithful servant, you have left the world a much better place.
Blessed be his memory.
To send a card to the Christianson family, mail to 824 23rd St SW, Rochester MN 55902. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Christianson family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
Rochester, MN 55902
Rochester, MN 55902
Dear Marcia, Mary and family,
We were saddened to read of your father's death yesterday in the Decorah newspaper. Your mother and father were longtime patients of mine (as were you at one time!) and we shared a special connection with your dad through the Valdres exchange. We had only lived in Decorah for about a year, when we bought the "Hamlet Peterson" home on North Street. We didn't know your father at that time, but he called us, wondering if he could visit us in our "new" home about hosting a Valdres student the following year. From that short meeting, developed a long term friendship with Kjell Arne Berntsen, and your parents. Kjell Arne became our son and best friend because of your father, and as you may know, died in a tragic skiing accident almost on the same day as your mother passed away. We were devastated, called your father before we left for Norway to attend the funeral, only to have him tell us that your mother had just passed away. So we both shared our common grief at that time, and your dad later stopped by our home near Decorah, to visit after those dark days. We stayed in contact long after he moved to Rochester. We considered Gordon a good friend, a fine man, husband and father. He made the world a better place and will be missed. Mary and I extend our deepest condolences to your family on this great loss. Jon and Mary Hart