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.
There will be a celebration of life at Zumbro Lutheran Church later this summer when safe to do so. 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
Marcia , Mary and Families ,
Sorry of the loss of your Father Gordon , He was there from the start of our new school . He did a great job throughout the years. Our Thoughts and Prayers are will you.
Class of 68
John & Mary Sexton , Cedar Rapids , Iowa
Rick and Donna (Peterson) Rasmussen
Gordon was Superintendent at North Winn all the years we attended there. He was so dedicated to the school and its success. As others have said, he was a true North Winner! What a gift it was to all of us to have the Norwegian exchange students at North Winn through the program he made possible. He is a true example of a life well-lived. Our thoughts and prayers to the family. A donation has been given to the North Winneshiek Scholarship Fund in his memory.
I first met Gordon after Aggie and he had moved to Rochester and joined Zumbro Lutheran Church.
i was immediately struck by his friendliness, curiosity and positivity. For several years before moving to Charter House, Gordon participated in our small group Men's Bible Study (to which he several times brought along his brother-in-law pastor). Again, in Bible Study he was always friendly and curious, and also humble about what he thought was his limited knowledge of the Bible (it wasn't). Right away, once he knew where you were from or where you had once lived, it seemed that he always could follow up with at least a dozen questions about that location and the people he knew or remembered from there. He was an avid coin collector and photographer, and he absolutely was full of pride and love for his family. I missed seeing Gordon the last few years and am absolutely sure that St. Peter had to hurry him through the receiving line as he was taking too long to try to catch up with everyone. Good-bye, Gordon. Thanks for enriching so many lives!
Marcia and Mary you have my sincerest sympathies and prayers. You have my love and hugs. I know you will have lots of cherished memories as you had a wonderful father.
Marcia & Mary Sad to hear the passing of your dad. Our thoughts & Prayers are with you & your families. We would always see Gordon & Agnes at our Peterson Family Reunion in Lake Mills. Ken & Marge Moen & Fern Chandler.
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
To Mary, Marsha and all family members of Gordon, my heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with all of you. I had the privilege of meeting Gordon on a few occasions over the years. He lived such a full life and was a genuine and beloved person to all who met him. In the midst of your grief, take time to cherish the wonderful memories you have of such a wonderful father, grandfather, educator, leader, and friend to many.
My sympathy and prayers, Ken Kurth
As a retired teacher, I wish I had work under his guidance. But I met him though his daughter, Mary, when we both worked at the theaters. He and Agnes always treated his daughters friends like family. I remember having wonderful conversations with him and enjoyed his Christmas letters every year. He will be missed but always remember that he had a wonderful fulfilling life. Hugs to the family.
As a fellow educator and native Iowan, I had many fine conversations with and memories of Gordon. Our community and church will miss him. Rest in peace. Bob Brooks
Warm thoughts from Norway to Gordon's family. I had the pleasure of visiting Gordon and Agnes along with my mother Johanna and a group of Norwegian musicians and dancers around 1997. I remember Gordon as a kind, humorous man that seemed to radiate both kindness and fun at the same time. Thanks for the hospitality and not least the bucket of karmelkorn Gordon gave me and my mother when he picked us up at the airport.
Your Dad was "a rock" for North Winneshiek" I always respected him and am grateful for all he did for us. Thanks and rest in peace. Roger Bentley NW Class of 69!
I'm sorry about losing your father. I hope all your memories of him are wonderful. Bless his soul.
He touched the lives of so many people over the years and for us it has meant a lot over the past four years of my husband's battle with pancreatic cancer. Until the past year when he moved into assisted living he would always make a point of visiting us while we were at the clinic in Rochester. We found each other when I was working on the Twito Family History and shared many phone calls and emails back and forth about our family over the years while I was working on the history. Gordon you are now in Heaven with Agnes, RIP, we will miss you so much. Love to your family that you left behind.
Marcia and family, I was so sorry to read of your Dad’s passing in the Decorah newspaper. It is so nice to see the wonderful photos you shared of him and his loving family. May your precious memories become a blanket of comfort for you all during this time of sadness and healing. God’s blessings to all.....
marcia and mary and families. we were so sorry to hear of gordon passing. we thought of him often this last year as we were in rochester so many times across the street and could not go see him. we have wonderful memories and will alway have him in our hearts. god bless and many prayers going your way. rest in peace roger and lila bjork
You'll be missed so much!
Such a beautiful tribute to Gordon. I always remember when he and your mom would visit here on Two Notch.
Gordon was always out taking in all the local history. He was truly a life long learner. He loved and enjoyed his family and I remember his pride at Jenny’s wedding.
May your beautiful memories sustain you and bring you comfort through this difficult time.
We Love you, Dad & Grandpa!
Sorry to hear of Gordon's passing...he was a true North Winner...his faith and belief in the school district was second to none...always enjoyed visiting with him...may he rest in peace!
I’m so very sorry to learn of the passing of a great man, Mr. Christianson hired me for my first teaching job at North Winneshiek. He was so very proud of his school and teachers.
I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of a great man. Mr. Christianson hired me for my first teaching job at North Winneshiek. He was so very proud of the school and the teachers.
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