BENT AKSEL, 86
Gainesville, FL - Bent Christensen, age 86, of Gainesville, Florida passed away at home of natural causes on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 22, 1928, he married Annikki Hannula in Helsinki, Finland in 1958. Annikki, the love of his life, he had met in Boston when they were both exchange students at M.I.T. Shortly after wedding, they immigrated to the United States. Initially residing in Minneapolis, Bent earned his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1960 while Annikki gave birth to their eldest child, Ken. Bent and Annikki settled in Gainesville in 1963 when Bent accepted a faculty position at the University of Florida in the then fledgling Department of Civil Engineering. The birth of their daughter, Eva, followed and Gainesville became their permanent home. Bent enjoyed a long tenure as a Professor of Civil Engineering at UF from 1963 until his retirement in 1995, remaining active in his research as Professor Emeritus.
A leading researcher in the area of water flow and flood control, Bent's numerous contributions to reduce storm-related flood damage left a legacy in the state of Florida and throughout the world. Additional research efforts focused on wetlands preservation and restoration; Bent was a strong proponent for preserving the ecology and inherent beauty of Florida's coastal zones emphasizing responsible development to minimize environmental impact. With his expertise in the field of hydraulics and fluid mechanics, he was a member of many professional organizations including the American Society of Civil Engineers and published countless academic articles in professional journals. In his role, Bent traveled to the world giving presentations at conferences in France, Germany, Korea, Turkey, Thailand and South Africa, culminating with a sabbatical at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. A notoriously demanding teacher during his 32 years at UF, Bent was committed to insuring his students not only graduated with solid engineering skills but also with high standards of professional integrity. Many students, years after establishing successful careers in Civil Engineering, would continue to visit Bent in his corner office, tucked away in the basement of UF's Weil Hall.
Considering his love for water, family time was invariably spent picnicking at Blue Springs or walking the beach at Matanzas Inlet. Summer vacation was an annual foray to Sanibel Island to enjoy the gulf breezes and gentle waves of the gulf. Bent always appreciated a good party as he and Annikki hosted annual 'Winter Solstice' parties complete with a traditional Scandinavian smorgasbord including smoked salmon and pickled herring. In later years, his interests included photography, reading and spending time with his family including his daughter-in-law, three grandsons, and their dachshund. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent in deep conversation over scientific treatises or current events.
Bent is survived by his wife of 56 years Annikki; son Ken, daughter-in-law Loraine, three grandsons Erik, Lukas, and Kurt, and his daughter Eva.
The family is very grateful to Dr. Ballou and his staff of Senior Healthcare Center at Springhill for their excellent medical care and kindness to their father. They are also extremely appreciative of the many healthcare professionals providing the care and therapy allowing Bent to remain in his home.
A memorial service will be held in the University Lutheran Church on Saturday, August 23rd at 11am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to University Lutheran Church, 1826 W University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32603.
Arrangements are under the care of Forest Meadows Funeral Homes and Cemeteries, 725 NW 23rd Ave., Gainesville, FL 32609 (352) 378-2528. Please sign Bent's online guestbook at
Forest Meadows Funeral Home and Cemeteries
725 NW 23rd Avenue Gainesville, FL 32609
Published in Gainesville Sun from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22, 2014