Matilda "Tillie" Christiansen

Obituary
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Longtime Alaskan Tillie Christiansen died April 4, 2012 in Bethel, Alaska. She was 82.

Matilda Mae Rasmussen was born on a farm near Bloomer, Wisconsin on March 8, 1930 to Glen and Lucile Miner Rasmussen. Farm life created strong bonds with brothers Frank and Jackie Lee. They remained close even after Tillie moved to Alaska.

Tillie's first job out of nursing school was in Sitka, at the government run TB sanitarium. Many from the YK Delta were hospitalized there. In 1954 she arrived in Bethel to work at the new hospital and never left.

Tillie married pilot Ray Christiansen and together they started Christiansen Air Service. When Ray was elected to the Alaska Legislature in 1960, she went to Juneau with him, but later stayed in Bethel to run the business.

Lasting friendships were formed during Tillie's long aviation career. It included work at the Bethel airport and Prudhoe Bay for Wien Air and Hermans Markair Express. Her friendly, calm voice was a comfort to many and made her a radio favorite with pilots who often flew in heavy weather.

Tillie was known for kindness, humor and opening her home to travelers, friends and neighbors.

She served on the Bethel City Council and was a member of the Bethel Moravian Church. Her children always felt family was the most important thing to her.

She collected art glass eggs, loved reading, birdwatching, traveling and later in life, going to casinos.

Burial was in Bethel on April 8, marked by a well timed two plane flyover as two others sat in airport traffic, unable to launch; Tillie would have understood that.

Preceding her in death were husband Ray, granddaughter Heidi Christine Manumik, parents Glen and Lucile Rasmussen. Surviving are children Carol Piakak (Tom), Ray Otto Christiansen (Jeannette), Christine Christiansen, David Christiansen (Sally); grandchildren: Heather B. Manumik, Bethany, Alyssa, Ryan and Clinton Christiansen and Melissa Hurd; brothers Frank Rasmussen (Dorothy) and Jack Rasmussen (Denise); nieces and nephews in the Thorson family: Nina, Marcia, Ray, Esther and Gloria and in the Rasmussen families: Kristen, Kevin and Ryan and Jack and Lillian Hattery.



Published in Anchorage Daily News from May 5 to May 6, 2012