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Christine Upton


1948 - 2019
Christine Upton Obituary
After a long struggle with cancer, Christine Engelhard Upton passed to the other side May 28, 2019. She died peacefully at home, surrounded by family.
Christine was born in 1948 to Jane and Alfred Engelhard in Detroit, Michigan, and spent her childhood there. She got her B.A. from Michigan State University and master's from Oakland University. After completing her education and a period of working as a special education teacher in Michigan and Iowa, she moved to Alaska in 1982.
She was a legislative secretary for Rep. Ken Fanning in the Alaska state Legislature and worked for BP on the Slope as a word processor. For the rest of her career she worked as a special education teacher in the Yukon Flats School District, itinerating among Birch Creek, Arctic Village, Venetie, Chalkyitsik, Rampart and Fort Yukon; and later in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), and then at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks. She spent many hours in the air on bush mail planes while at Yukon Flats and also experienced the rural lifestyle of fish camps, river boating and picnics with her students. Christine will be most remembered for her dedication to, and passion for, teaching.
Her greatest love was her family and her friends, of which there were many. Many of her enduring friendships came from her 14 years singing with the Sweet Adelines, the Fairbanks Button Box group and the Fairbanks Accordion Club, which she founded. She taught accordion across town and encouraged younger people to play. Music was a big part of her life and was expressed in many ways. She participated in the Fairbanks Summer Arts festival, played her accordion at the Golden Days parades and attended the Joe Smiell Button Box camps in California to further her accordion skills. She also played the piano, flute, organ and hammered dulcimer.
After her marriage to her husband, Corbett, in 1987, she ran Applesauce Inn, her B&B, out of their home for many years, with lots of fun times there, cooking fabulous breakfasts and offering her unending help to the guests staying there. She would steer them to local attractions and to bush flights on the mail planes or local road trips. She was full-time Mom to son Corey then, also; the B&B provided a nice environment in which to raise Baby. Cooking and gardening were a favorite pastime. Her bone broth soups were legendary.
She traveled throughout the U.S. and Mexico with her family in their motorhome and by car and bus in Argentina. Earlier in her life, she backpacked for a year in South America, enjoying the Amazon in local boats and buses.
After retirement from teaching, she worked for the After Care program for the youngest students at Immaculate Conception School. She had come up with an idea for teaching math to the little ones by making a game out of it. The students were encouraged to walk around the track on the school grounds. They were paid for each complete trip using play coins that she found at Michael's. They learned to save their coins to purchase donated used toys set out in the store on a certain day. It really caught on and will probably continue with future generations of children. The children were much faster at understanding math in the years after this fun experience.
In the mid-2000s, her family lived on their wooden boat in Valdez, where son Corey went to school and husband Corbett worked, a unique experience - fishing, cooking in a small galley and enjoying the boating lifestyle. Afterward, she helped develop their desert property from an abandoned store in a ghost town to a functional desert retreat. She formed enduring friendships there also.
Her five-year cancer ordeal was her final adventure. The doctors and staff at MD Anderson in Houston and at the Fairbanks Cancer Care facility were outstanding in their care and compassion. The thing that carried her through that was hope, and caring and prayer from a multitude of people. She retained her spirit to the end.
Christine is survived by her husband, Corbett; son, Corey; sisters, Joanne and her husband, Dave Klumb, from Fairbanks, and Luise and her husband, Norm Chastain, from Florida; brother, John Engelhard, and wife, Mari, from Michigan; and brother-in-law, Jay Upton, and wife, Mirja, from Washington. Also nieces and nephews and cousins throughout the states. She was predeceased by her mother and father, Alfred and Jane Engelhard, of Michigan.
The family would like to thank the doctors and staff at MD Anderson in Houston, Dr. Kowal in Fairbanks, Dr. Jackie and the staff at the Fairbanks Cancer Care facility and the very capable and caring staff at Hospice of the Tanana Valley for making Christine's journey through this not only bearable but also an experience of love and support. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation to Hospice or the cancer center would be appropriate.
Services will be held at at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 1030 Second Ave. A celebration of life will follow the service at the Upton residence, 119 Gruening Way.
Published in Daily News-Miner on June 9, 2019
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