Mary S. Christensen In the 98th year of her life, died June 22, 2012, in Tucson from injuries suffered in a fall one week earlier. Mary was born November 11, 1914, in Milbank, South Dakota, and lived in South Dakota, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, her brother and her husband of more than 50 years, Alphus R. Christensen, who died in Tucson twenty years earlier. Mary was living independently in Tucson at the time of her fall. How do you summarize a life? Mary would probably describe herself as a mother first, a wife second, a school teacher third. She loved to travel. And not just to visit other places, although she and her husband traveled widely to most of Earth's continents after his retirement and their move to Arizona. She actually loved to travel, to move through space, preferably in a car, whether a day trip to some Arizona destination, which she last did a couple of weeks before her death, or to her yearly week on the sands of Pacific beach, which she last did in 2010, or simply around Tucson. While she did not escape the downsides of advanced age two broken hips in the last four years she did enjoy the natural blessings of this Earth. Mary was an inveterate Episcopalian, Democrat and loyal PEO sister a long-time member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Tucson, a volunteer worker in George McGovern's first South Dakota congressional campaign and a 57-year member of PEO Chapter AD. She was awarded an Associate degree in education by Minnesota's Winona State Teachers' College in 1934 and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree by Ohio's Rio Grande College, now the University of Rio Grande, in 1964. She taught elementary students in South Dakota in the 1930s and again, as well as remedial reading and Head Start students, in Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s. While usually gentle, she did not suffer fools quietly. In the last decades of her life, she became a fan of various dominant NBA teams and, of course, the Wildcats. More recently she enjoyed watching international bicycle racing and was eagerly awaiting the start of this year's Tour de France at the time of her fatal injury. Mary is survived by her three children, Julie Erickson, Skip Christensen and Mark Christensen and her two daughters-in-law, Liz Christensen and Nancy Stanley, all of Tucson; her six grandchildren, Jill Stevens and Paul Erickson of the Phoenix area, Jessica Christensen and Mark Christensen of Seattle, Washington and Sarah Stanley and James Christensen of Tucson and her great-grandson, Dylan Stevens of the Phoenix area. Mary's life will be remembered and celebrated at a Memorial Gathering at St. Andrew's, 545 South 5th Avenue, Tucson, at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, July 28, 2012. Her cremated remains will be interred next to those of her husband in the cemetery of her first home, Milbank, South Dakota. At the end, Mary honored the exhortation of her favorite poem: "Do not go gentle into that good night."
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Published in the Arizona Daily Star on July 22, 2012