Mary Jean (Zentner) Christiansen

Christiansen (Zentner), Mary Jean Mary Jean Zentner Christiansen was a beautiful woman who filled her 90 years with stunning accomplishments, courage, unmatched grace, love and extraordinary strength. Mary passed away on Jan. 15 in Marietta, Georgia, surrounded by her daughters' love and care. Her family is blessed with countless Mary memories and lessons that will be retold and retaught for generations. God gave Mary a spirit beyond compare, and Mary made the most of that gift in raising, with her husband of 67 years Dan Christiansen, a loving Christian family. Mary was an avid reader, music lover, and a family-first matriarch of a welcoming home. Mary held degrees from the University of Wisconsin and University of Michigan. She was often the smartest person in the room, and yet she'd only let that be known if you tried to cross her on politics or her football teams. She loved her Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers and, after moving to Alabama in 1975, her Auburn Tigers. Mary loved to learn, and she shared that love with others passionately. In her 35 years in Auburn, Alabama, she was an alumni adviser for Pi Beta Phi and an active member of Auburn United Methodist Church, Auburn Beautification Council, PEO and the Republican Party. Mary is survived by two daughters, Carol Carr of Minneapolis and Cynthia Harder of Marietta, Ga, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Losing her youngest daughter, Judith Boyd, was Mary's most difficult challenge. The strength she showed at this time was one of her most memorable legacies. Dan died a year and a half ago, but again Mary's courage was stronger than her sadness and she continued to be the guiding light for the family. Her daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many other friends and family will carry on Mary's spirit and, as it says on her tombstone, "Follow Her Light." Dan and Mary had an everlasting love, and they were the shining stars in the lives they built together in Wauwatosa and Brookfield, Wisconsin, and later in Alabama and Georgia. There is more joy than sadness in the Christiansen family because we know God meant for Dan and Mary to be together, and God always gets his way in the end. Private family services will be held for Mary at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Mercy Ministries, Auburn United Methodist Church, PO Box 3135, Auburn, Alabama 36831

Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Jan. 21, 2014