Christensen obit photoClarence Christensen, Jr., age 94, of Lincoln, died Feb. 12, 2017. He was born on a farm in Hooper, Nebr. and helped his father with the farm until the Depression when his family moved to Fremont.  There he helped support the family by delivering newspapers. In his teens, they moved to Dwight, where Clarence helped his father in the family’s machinery repair shop.  During high school, they moved to Valparaiso and he attended Valparaiso High School.  As a teenager, he built a ham radio, secured a license and communicated with ham radio operators around the country, even serving as an operator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).  Clarence survived Scarlet Fever as a child, causing him to graduate a year later.

Clarence worked with his family at Christensen Implement in Valparaiso where they repaired and sold farm equipment -there he was able to purchase a ride with a barnstormer pilot, launching his love for flying. He volunteered for the Army Air Corps to train as a B24 pilot.  At 22, he flew 35 combat missions over Europe during WWII, and brought his 9-member crew home safely to conclude their tour.  Clarence earned two distinguished Flying Crosses for his bravery.

After the war, he joined the Nebraska Air National Guard where he not only served as an aircraft instructor, but also worked as an aircraft maintenance officer earning and honoring the respect of the aircraft mechanics; finishing his career with the military as a Director of Operations.

Clarence bridged the gap between propeller airplanes of the 1940’s such as the B24 (and his favorite, the P51), finishing his career in the supersonic RF4. None of his personal achievements surpassed his winning the prestigious Ricks Trophy Race.  Representing the 173rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, “Chris” Christensen flew his F-86D Sabre jet over the 850-mile course between Jacksonville, Florida and Dallas, Texas in one hour, forty-eight minutes and twenty seconds. He was inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993.

Preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; daughter Jeanne Schneider; and grandson, Anders Ukinski.

He is survived by his son Dan and family; daughter Cynthia and family; and son, John; including 6 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 am on Thurs., Feb. 16, 2017 at American Lutheran Church, 42nd & Vine St., Lincoln, NE.; with burial to follow the reception.  Burial in Valparaiso.  Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 8:00 pm on Wednes., Feb. 15th, at Wyuka Funeral Home, 3600 “O” St., Lincoln.  Memorials to the Village of Valparaiso Park Fund. Condolences www.wyuka.com

 

 

 

17 Responses to Clarence Christensen, Jr.

  1. Patty Scharf says:

    Dan and family, I’m so sad – Clarence was a great person to know. I so enjoyed getting to meet him with his trips to the Compass Room. He would let me join him at the end of the runway at nights and we would watch the planes land and take off. I would stop by to visit every once in awhile when I was in Valparaiso. Last year I stopped by and no one was home – I so which I could have talked to him one more time.

  2. John Olson says:

    My deepest sympathy to the Christensen family for the passing of Clarence.

  3. Stan Draper says:

    Loved to watch his acrobatics over Valparaiso.

    May your sorrows be lessened by your memories of his life.

  4. Doug Roll says:

    Colonel Chris helped shape my life. In 1965 he helped join the NEANG, where I became a jet mechanic. I retired 24 years later, after his mentoring and counseling helped me many, many times. His wisdom and his wit will always be with me. He truly is part of “the Greatest Generation”.

  5. Allen & Karen Hoffbauer says:

    Our Prayers and Thoughts go out to All the Family Members Who are grieving at the Loss of their Precious Loved One. Col. Chris was one of a Kind! Rest assured He’s with God, Jesus Christ Our Savior & the Holy Spirit Dancing on the Streets of Gold in Heaven!! Born Again Col. Chris is Enjoying His Eternal Life so too We should join in His Celebration of Eternal Life! With the Love of Jesus Christ who made Paid the Price for Us, Allen D. & Karen R. Hoffbauer

  6. Anne Winner Anderson says:

    “Colonel Chris” was one of the Old Guard flying club and a true hero from the greatest generation. My Dad introduced me to Chris in 1975, and he immediately took me under his wing, solicitous and gentlemanly, treating me like I was his own family. Chris loved to explain the Air Guard and planes and tell stories while touring around the flight line in the SOF truck. Chris was very kind to me; I expect he and Dad are talking it over again now. Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

  7. Perry and Nancy Thompson says:

    So very sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  8. Nick L. says:

    Sorry for your loss Christensen family. Keeping you in our thoughts.

  9. Connie Krause says:

    I met Clarence as his housekeeper at Legacy Terrace.He was one of the nicest persons I have had the pleasure to meet.He was very intelligent and interesting with his stories of being a pilot.He was always very generous also,made me always take a piece of candy before I left(and wouldn’t take no for an answer).My thoughts and prayers are with Dan,John,Cindy and their families.With sympathy,Connie Krause

  10. Terry Schneider says:

    Dan, Cindy, John

    Very sorry to here of your Dads passing. Col. Chris got me my start in the Air Guard and was a great mentor. Have a lot of great memories of him as well as your entire family.

    Terry Schneider

  11. Tina Trueblood says:

    Your father was an amazing yet humble man. I am honored to have known him. My deepest sympathy to his family.

    “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    Kahlil Gibran

  12. Tina Trueblood says:

    Clarence was an amazing yet humble man. What a life he lived! My deepest sympathy for your loss.

    “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    Kahlil Gibran

  13. Ltcol Tom McGuire [ret] says:

    Col Chris was one of the finest officers I ever served with and worked for in my Air Force and Air National Guard service. A real gentleman!
    Col Chris checked me out in the RF84F soon after I joined the Nebraska Air National Guard. I was very new to the unit and Col Chris was giving me instruction in the procedures trainer. After a little while he said “you flew the F86 I don’t think we need any more time here, let’s go fly!” We went out he checked me out in the cockpit and we flew a great first flight. Along with his family, I will certainly miss him.

  14. Philip Rezac Family says:

    Dear Cyndy, Dan & John

    Our heartfelt condolences for Chris’s flight to heaven. We are so blessed to have known him. He graced this world and earned his reward.

    With Sympathy

    Phil, Judy and Joel Rezac

  15. Sue Fenster says:

    Dear ones, Chris was the closest thing to a grandpa that my boys had. Dr. Fenster thought highly of him and I send my regards as well. He was always a good fellow and a natural born leader. He and Ruth touched our family in such positive ways we all feel blessed.
    Peace be with you all, Sue

  16. Pam Nygren says:

    I had the honor of knowing Clarence when I went to the Valparaiso Senior Center. He and Ruth were two of the nicest people in the world. They were so fun to visit with and get to know. My sympathy to their family.

  17. Loyd Jones says:

    Cynthia & Family, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. As a retired military guy myself (including the NE Air Guard), his service and record of accomplishment was very admirable to me.

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