by Judy Christensen Scott
When someone is identified as a natural leader, certain images come to mind. First thoughts are of a no-nonsense, tough-minded, dedicated and disciplined person. This description accurately fits Don J Christensen who was indeed a born manager. He will be remembered as being highly organized, practical and realistic. He was a person who always carried a strong sense of duty with him throughout his life. Possessed with traditional “old school” morals, Don was an individual who clearly communicated to those around him just who he was and what he was all about. Everyone acquainted with Don knew him as a well-respected man who was a stable force in his community.
Don was born on September 3, 1922 at his Grandpa C. N. Christensen’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were M. J. and Hazel Christensen. Don was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and Milford, Utah. Even as a youngster, Don learned to be objective and decisive. His faith in the principles of authority and dependability was something that he carried with him throughout his life.
As a young boy, Don was able to put his natural abilities to work. He was a bit like the sergeant of the family, helping to make sure that the others did what they should do and that they avoided those things they weren’t supposed to. In other words, he liked to organize and direct. Don was raised with five siblings. He had three brothers, Vern, Carl and Paul, and two sisters, Anne and Adele. Don had an inborn appreciation for the order in the family, allowing for the oldest members to be the most respected and to take on the most responsibility. For Don, this was a natural order of life, one he gladly embraced.
Don’s matter-of-fact attitude about most things was developed during his childhood. As a young boy, Don enjoyed being part of teams, and organizations and groups of other kids who shared similar interests. He was a Boy Scout and he played the trumpet in the band. In his spare time he liked scouting and bike riding. One of Don’s memorable achievements included being the Utah State Champion Bookkeeper.
In school, Don was as close to being a model student as one could possibly imagine. He sought to achieve perfect attendance in all of his classes. He would eagerly complete his homework, and often put in extra study time when he felt it was necessary. A logical and focused thinker, Don was always good at following directions and meeting his schedules, whether they were set by his teachers or were self-imposed. Don’s personal motto could well have been, “Do it right the first time.” Don attended Milford High School for three years and he graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1940. He enjoyed some courses more than others, having favorite classes and teachers. Don’s favorite classes in high school were Band and Bookkeeping. The teacher he enjoyed learning from the most was his bookkeeping teacher and scout master, Mr. Yack. One of Don’s most memorable accomplishments in high school is when he received a perfect score in bookkeeping at The Intermountain Meet in Provo, Utah.
Don’s practical work ethic carried over into his college years. His logical mind permitted him to work hard without succumbing to the usual distractions of college life. He would tackle an assignment and work through it before moving onto the next project. Don’s orderly nature gave way to establishing personal study habits and procedures that not only helped him stay on track but often put him ahead of schedule. When Don saw the need or benefit, he would willingly take on the extra assignment or even attend extra classes in order to learn more and become a better student. He attended the University of Maryland and he also took classes at Polytechnic Institute in Peoria, Illinois where he learned hand engraving and watchmaker. His favorite courses were watchmaking and engraving.Don was sociable and approachable. Because he was always so straightforward in how he approached relationships, friends and family knew that what they saw was always what they got. He enjoyed the camaraderie of being with a group of friends. When Don was a member of a group, his interactions with others worked to keep the group grounded. He wasn’t afraid to confront his friends and, when necessary, he challenged them to stick to the task at hand. Those close to Don came to expect his high standards of performance. While growing up, his best friends were his brother Vern and his sister Anna.
An objective and conscientious individual, Don reveled in the security of his family. On February 10, 1949 Don exchanged wedding vows with Zona Walburger at the Cardston Alberta Temple in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. One of Don’s most endearing qualities was his uncanny ability to remember important dates and anniversaries, and his unending enthusiasm for organizing a celebration for his family and friends.Don was ever watchful of his children. He worried about them and was deeply concerned for their development as they grew up. He maintained a firm hand in their upbringing. Don would give his stamp of approval to their requests, as long as he could see how they might benefit. He also had the ability to enforce the rules as needed to ensure that his children were properly raised. Don was blessed with six children, Wayne, Eugene, Carl, Judy, Eric and Marcus. They were also blessed with twenty-six grandchildren, Issac, Rebecka, Maria, David, Jack, Jennifer, Marianne, Joseph, Suzanne, Marñee, Ryan, Natalie, Michael, Christopher, Joshua, Bridgette, Jacob, Lindsey, Spencer, Marcus, Zona Marie, Katie, Brittany, Jacob, Alex and Nik.
Don’s wife of 50 years, Zona, passed away on January 17, 2000. On February 24, 2001, Don exchanged wedding vows with Blanche Hunsaker Cutler in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Being a hard worker who praised efficiency, Don was always striving to make improvements where they were necessary. He was able to analyze situations and problems, keeping everything and everyone on track. An excellent project supervisor, Don was a person who could quickly make decisions based on the information available. He worked cooperatively and expected the same from his colleagues. In both his personal and professional environments, Don upheld his standards. His primary occupation was Comptroller and Jewelry Store manager/owner at MJ Christensen Jewelers in Las Vegas, NV. He was employed for 50+ year in this industry. Don was a team player who certainly lived out the motto of “give me a job, and I will get it done.”
Don was an Army veteran. His sense of duty helped lead him into the military where his understanding of rank, his willingness to abide by rules and regulations and his desire to follow orders was admired by his fellow service men and women. He was a Private in the 102 Infantry Division. Don saw action during WWII. He received several awards recognizing his for his heroism, including a Bronze Star.
Don approached his leisure time in the same manner that he approached his life. A person who enjoyed being neat and orderly and one who understood the nature of things, he appreciated the hours he was able to devote to his various hobbies. His favorite pursuits were Scouting and playing the bugle in the band. Don was content to enjoy his favorite pastimes alone but was also willing to share his interests with others.
Being generous with his time and energy, Don liked to belong to a variety of groups and organizations. He was a vocal leader who enjoyed being a part of things. His desire to uphold traditions and his ability to take charge of any type of project made him a tremendous asset. Throughout his later years, Don was an active member of the Boy Scouts of America, the Las Vegas Rotary Club and a 4-Beaded Wood Badger.
A civic-minded person, Don was usually ready to jump in and help with community activities. He was the type of person who could masterfully organize events and projects and then see to it that they were run in an efficient and timely manner. Don was a member of several community groups, including serving on committees for the Rotary Club. Politically, Don was a supporter of the Republican Party. During these years, Don applied his analytical intellect to problem solving and so was an asset on most committees.
Faith was important to Don. He held high moral standards and was worried about the moral decay he saw around him. For that reason he held deep spiritual beliefs that he was willing to share. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. During that time, he was teacher, a member of the Boy Scouts of America, and a missionary.
As someone who placed a high value on showing gratitude, Don could graciously accept a “thank you” extended to him by those he helped. However, individual recognition wasn’t a motivating force for Don; rather, when he saw that there was a need to get something done, he was more than willing to give his time and energy in order to see it accomplished. Some of his most prestigious awards included the Silver Beaver and 4-Bead Wood Badge.
When it came time to travel or take a vacation, Don used his scheduling expertise to make sure everyone and everything was ready to go. That also meant that he made certain no single person was overworked in putting the trip together. Don had a knack for making sure that everyone who was involved had their specific tasks and that those tasks were completed. Favorite vacations included Canada, Japan, Hawaii, Europe, and Australia.
Don was a lover of animals and cherished his pets. Over the years, Don had many dogs, the last one named Chica.
When Don’s retirement finally arrived in 2000, he was well prepared. He used his critical evaluation skills to make sure that every detail had been preplanned and attended to. In retirement, he found new pleasure in traveling, missionary work, and family. In many ways, Don loved retirement. It provided him with the opportunity to catch up with his friends, attend functions and group outings, and tackle new interesting activities.
Don passed away on June 18, 2014 at Veterans Nursing Home in Boulder City, Nevada. Don’s body was tired and slowly he slipped away. He is survived by his wife Blanche; his children Wayne, Eugene, Carl, Judy, Eric and Marcus, 26 grandchildren, and 45 great grandchildren. Services were held at LDS Chapel on Alta and Jones, Las Vegas, Nevada. Don was laid to rest in Palm Northwest Cemetery on North Jones, Las Vegas, Nevada.
All who knew him would agree that Don was a pillar of the community. He lived his life with his feet firmly on the ground. He had a strong work ethic, was pragmatic in his thoughts and acts, and constantly sought the means for self-improvement. He was willing to share his ideas and knowledge for the benefit of others, so that they could accomplish more in their lives. Don J Christensen did his best to ensure that his family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, and everyone whose life he touched were given the chance to become a better person.