Robert C. Christesen
1943 - 2016
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Robert C. Christesen

February 15, 1943 - October 12, 2016


Robert Christesen, known to his students and colleagues in the Wake County Public School System as "Mr. C.," passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday morning. He was a respected husband, father, grandfather, educator, and former opera singer. Born in Washington D.C., he was a Congressional Page Boy in high school, then continued his education at East Carolina University, University of Madison, Wisconsin, and NC State. He specialized in Danish, German, Spanish, French and Italian. His love for singing started when he was a young boy, eventually landing him a full scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music. He won numerous international vocal competitions including the 1973 Prague Spring Music Festival, where he met his Czech wife Mirka, a reporter for a radio station. He was a professional baritone opera singer in Frankfurt and Dortmund, Germany for thirteen years, with lots of guest performances throughout Europe. Among his favorite roles were Rigoletto, Onegin, and Don Giovanni.

Together with their daughter Jana, Robert and Mirka moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in the mid 1980s, both accepting teaching jobs within the Wake County Public School System. Robert taught foreign languages and Social Studies at Ligon and Carnage Middle Schools before becoming Foreign Language Chair at Wake Forest Rolesville High. His first job as an administrator was in Vance County in 1994 and then at Enloe High in 1995. He worked at West Cary Middle School as Assistant Principal until his retirement in 2009. As an administrator "M. C" was a teachers' advocate and cared deeply about the students in his care. However, he never totally left his singing. Throughout the years, he performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Duke Chapel, and at memorial services for his close friends and co-workers. As a devoted Rotarian, he contributed to numerous charities to aide the needy both in the Carolinas and abroad. His commitment to the Wake Forest Rotary lasted until his final days. At 6'5" tall, his larger than life presence and booming voice made him an unforgettable figure on the stage and came in handy also in the school hallways.

Robert is predeceased by his parents, Fred and Dorothy Christesen, and by his beloved Pop Pop Currier. He is survived by his wife Mirka Christesen, their daughter Jana Xanthakos, son-in-law Lee Xanthakos, and grandchildren Niko and Mia; his twin sister Betty Mitteer, his younger sister Anne Ramsey, brother-in-law Don Ramsey, his brother John Christesen, and a number of cousins, nieces, and nephews. Flowers are welcome or memorial contributions may be made to the Wake Forest Rotary Club.

A memorial gathering to celebrate the life of this gentle giant will be held for family and friends on Saturday, October 22, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Mitchell Funeral Home, 7209 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The News and Observer on Oct. 19, 2016.
Memorial Gathering
06:00 - 08:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Mitchell Funeral Home at Raleigh Memorial Park
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26 entries
November 4, 2019
Bobby was a living brother. I miss him terribly. He was a hard act to follow.

Anne-Marie Ramsey
November 1, 2016
Jana so sorry Annette
Annette Hoover
October 27, 2016
My parents just informed me of Mr. Christesen's passing. While I never was lucky enough to have him as my teacher (I studied Latin) at WF-R High School, he was an important presence in the life of our school and I knew he was involved in the Rotary Club. He was brilliant, and we were always in awe when we had the chance to hear his voice in performance within the community. I respected him a great deal. My condolences to his family and friends. He was a very bright light.
Celeste (Beck) Sagi
October 25, 2016
Im Gedenken an viele leuchtende Opernabende
Almut Lucia Stümke
October 22, 2016
Dear Mirka,
I was saddened to read of Robert's passing. Looking through the photos, it is clear that he had a full, happy, rewarding life. You have certainly been in my heart and prayers. May you and your family find peace and comfort in the days ahead, my friend.
Mary Jones
October 22, 2016
Mirka and Family-I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. C.. He was a big guy, with a big voice and a gentle spirit. I will miss knowing he is there and the interesting social/political and art related e-mails he shared. May you find comfort in the memories of the times you shared. God bless you.
Patricia Hampton
October 20, 2016
Sorry for your loss. He was one of those teachers that i wish i could learn more from. I had him as a spanish teacher at WFRHS.
Heath Coffey
October 20, 2016
Mirka, I am sending you a prayer and warmest of hugs. Please know that God is holding you gently in the palm of his hand to help you with the sudden loss of your husband Robert.
With Love , Nancy Carty
Nancy Carty
October 20, 2016
Mirka, my heart aches of the news of Robert's loss. I won't be able to attend the service Saturday, but please know that I will be there in spirit. I love you, and you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs to you, Jana, Niko, and Mia.
Jayna Huffines
October 19, 2016
It is with shock and sadness, Mirka, that I read of Robert's passing in the News & Observer this morning. Only a few days ago, the day after the storm blew down the trees in our neighborhood, I saw him walking in the street amongst the neighbors who had gathered to clear away the branches and leaves. He was wearing what appeared to be a cap with a stitched flower on the front. Please accept our sincere condolences.
Paul & Carolyn Carruth
October 18, 2016
My apologies for misspelling Bobby's last name as I must have been doing for the past 62 years when asked to spell my mother's maiden name. Geez.
Jim Dent
October 18, 2016
Bobby, as I knew him, was my mother's (Margaret (nee) Christensen Dent) first cousin, thus making him my second cousin. I never really had many opportunities to really get to know Bobby, other than the few times we met while I was a teenager, and he was an opera singer! I remember him being bigger than life, had long hair like me and was instantly likable. Many years later, we often shared photos of old cars on Facebook and by email, as I think Bobby had the same affinity for classic cars as I do. His passing affected me far greater than I would ever have expected. My prayers and condolences go out to his immediate family and close friends as I am sure he had many. I will miss our emails and Facebook posts together very much. I wish I was better at this because my words can not do justice to such an awesome human being as Bobby Christensen.
Jim Dent
October 18, 2016
Dear Mirka,
I am so sorry to hear about Robert. I remember well your storybook romance and how happy you were....I am keeping you in my prayers and thoughts. Stay well and take care of yourself!
Ann Palmer
October 18, 2016
To our dear brother in law and uncle, we will always remember your wonderful sense of humor and sympathy with which you cheered us all. Our deepest condolances to my dearest sister, our sister in law and aunt Mirka, and to our wonderful niece and cousin Jana, her husband Lee, their children Niko and Mia and all the family. We all are thinking of you strongly.

Helena, Giancarlo and Gea
Helena Kontova in Politi
October 17, 2016
Jana and Mirka,I am thinking about you and praying for healing thoughts at this sad time. Jana your dad was one of a kind and he will be missed!
Ashley Murr
October 17, 2016
I often reflect on conversations that we shared during my time at WCMS. Your words of wisdom will always be remembered. To the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Debbie Ray
October 16, 2016
You were always a happy voice at our weekly Rotary meetings. Although I am somewhat new to the group, you always made me feel welcomed! I know you are in God's hands and will be in peace forever.
Rich Perkins
October 16, 2016
Mirka, the two of you had a wonderful partnership which allowed each of you to share your gifts with so many others. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Camille Hedrick
October 15, 2016
You will be dearly missed my friend and colleague. I learned so many lessons from you during our years together at WCMS. Your compassion and care for those whose lives you touched will not be forgotten.
Connie Wiggins-Price
October 15, 2016
Mirka, Jana, We are thinking of you during this sad time. May you find comfort in the memories you hold, so beautifully shown in the photos here. We will never forget hearing him sing at Jana & Lee's wedding! Our heartfelt condolences.
Laura & Jeff Kennedy
October 15, 2016
Prayers of sympathy to the family. He will be truly missed at our WCRSP meetings.
Gwen Brown
October 15, 2016
Mr. C was a class act. He was a gentle man who enjoyed making people laugh. His lighter side was even more obvious in retirement. A very sweet man who will always be remembered fondly. Rest in Heaven
Keiba Nimmons
October 15, 2016
Mr. C always had presence. He was always nice and enjoyed making people laugh. His lighter side was even more obvious in his retirement. Mr. C was a class act. He was a good man and will be missed.
Keiba Nimmons
October 15, 2016
Kamilla Dancy
October 15, 2016
Heaven has gained a gem. Mr. C was truly one of a kind. May the prayers guide you through this time of grief and sorrow. All who knew him will truly miss him.
Kamilla Dancy
October 14, 2016
Mr C, you will be missed. Working with you at West Cary were some of the best years of my professional life and you played a big part in that! You were always so thoughtful of the teachers as well as the students. Whenever I think of you I always think of you smiling. You loved to come stand next to me and ask those around if they had seen Mrs. Allen. Then you would look down and exclaim, "Oh, there she is!" Thank you for your guidance and for sharing your talents with us. I pray God will take care of your family for you.
Elizabeth Allen
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