CHRISTENSON, ELVIN ARNOLD FCA
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November 18, 1918 - May 1, 2012
Elvin Christenson passed away peacefully in Edmonton on May 1, 2012 at the age of 93 years. He is remembered with love by his five children: Marnie (John) McBean of Calgary; Lynne (Richard) Clayton of Sherwood Park; Dwight Christenson of Edmonton; Eric Christenson of Novato, California; and Karyn (Miles) Palmer of Calgary. He had five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Elvin was predeceased by his wife, Halina, sister, Avis and granddaughter, Laura.
In addition to a long and full career in the accounting profession in Alberta, Elvin enjoyed time with family and friends. His favourite forms of relaxation included summers at Pigeon Lake with his family and golfing with good friends at the Royal Mayfair. He enjoyed playing the banjo, especially if there was a good friend at the piano. He was a founding member of the Cunningham Foursome and the Mayfair Squires, both of which were groups of friends enjoying good fellowship and the game of golf. In later years when he was unable to golf, he enjoyed watching the sport on television, along with curling and boxing.
Elvin lived all of his life in the Edmonton area. Born in Jarrow, Alberta where his father was a prairie grain buyer, the family lived on a farm until his mother opened a boarding house in Edmonton to enable them to send Avis and Elvin to high school. In a class of 135 students, Elvin was one of three to receive special recognition for outstanding scholarship. He thought he would like to be an engineer but the family could not afford university tuition so he opted to work in a chartered accountant's office. During World War II, he took correspondence courses from Queen's University and, as a fourth-year student, found himself on his own to close down the office when his employer became ill. Rather than close the office, Elvin continued to serve the clients and sent working papers and draft financial statements to an accountant in Calgary for review and signing. He later learned that the Institute of Chartered Accountants had allowed the office to operate only because of the wartime shortages of professional services, and only as long as Elvin did not fail any of his exams. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1944, established his own practice and took in his first student a year later. As a young CA, he was very proud to be elected President of the Edmonton Chartered Accountants Club in 1948.
By 1949 the post-war boom and growth in the oil industry resulted in tremendous growth in the practice and a partnership, Christenson, Simonton & Co. was formed with a Calgary practioner. That led to Christenson, Morrison & Co. in 1957, Thorne, Gunn, Helliwell & Christenson in 1966 and, in 1974, the merger to form Thorne Riddell & Co., the largest public accounting firm in Canada at that time. He was a member of the National Executive Committee, Chairman of the International Relations Committee and was deeply involved in the local, national and international management of the firm until his retirement in 1983 by which time the firm was well on its way to becoming part of the international firm of KPMG.
Elvin's contributions to the CA profession are impressive. He served as President of the Alberta Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1962-63 and President of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1976-77. He was elected a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Alberta in 1964, awarded Life Membership in 1984 and elected a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 1988. In 1998, he (along with three others) received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award awarded by the ICAA for outstanding contributions to the CA profession in Alberta.
Soon after Elvin's retirement from KPMG in 1983, he became a director for the Credit Union Stabilization Corporation which oversaw the restructuring of Alberta's credit unions after financial collapse in the mid-1980s.. The name changed to the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation in 1989 and Elvin held the position of Chairman of the Board until 1996.
Community services include 13 years on the provincial government's Health Disciplines Board, Chairman of the Dental Disciplinary Advisory Board, Chairman of the Accounting Education Foundation in Alberta, member of the University of Alberta Senate for three years, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University Hospitals Foundation, member of the University of Alberta Hospital Board and Chairman of Finance at the University of Alberta. He was a Governor of the Canadian Tax Foundation for three years.
Elvin served as President of the Kiwanis Club, the Mayfair Golf & Country Club, the Edmonton Club and the Scandinavian Club. He was a member of the Edmonton Petroleum Club and the Norwegian Club.
Throughout his long career, Elvin always believed in the high value of fellowship among peers. In 1968 he was the founding chair of the Pacioli Dining Club, a black tie event for Edmonton CAs over 40 years of age and the FCA Reception, an opportunity for Alberta FCAs to gather for networking and fellowship.
Honorary recognition outside the accounting profession includes President Emeritus and Honorary Life Member of the Board of Trustees of the University Hospitals Foundation, Honorary Founding Director of the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Edmonton, Honorary Governor of the Canadian Professional Golfers' Association, and receipt of the Centennial Medal in 1977.
For six decades, Elvin provided his time and expertise to his profession and his community. He believed he was fortunate to be able to contribute and put a very high value on the friendships that were forged during these endeavours. Following his retirement, he continued to attend many CA functions where he was well known and sought out by the many members and former students he had befriended over time.
Elvin always maintained an interest in sound education and strong peer support. He encouraged young chartered accountants to establish their own practices and felt that there would always be a need for small firms in the profession. He believed that large firms should lend a helping hand to small ones for, without them, accounting would become an industry, not a profession.
One of Elvin's proudest moments came when the Elvin Christenson, FCA Scholarship in Accounting was established at the University of Alberta in 1994 by the Chartered Accountants' Education Foundation. This fund finances two annual awards to worthy university accounting students.
In lieu of flowers or other tributes, Elvin's family suggests donations to the Chartered Acccountants Education Foundation of Alberta, marked for the Elvin Christenson Bursary Fund, 580 Manulife Place, 10180 - 101 Street, Edmonton AB, T5J 4R2.
Elvin's family is extremely grateful to the staff of St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital for the wonderful care and understanding that was provided to Elvin and to our family over the past year. This is vitally important and so very much appreciated.
A memorial get-together in celebration of Elvin's life will be held on Thursday, June 7, 2012 from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club, 9450 Groat Road, Edmonton.
Published in The Edmonton Journal on May 18, 2012