Graveside services for Clara M. Christenson, 101, Lawrence, will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Memorial Park Cemetery.
Mrs. Christenson died Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.
Friend may call from noon to 8 p.m. Monday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, where the family will receive them from 7-8 p.m. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Good Samaritan Fund at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, in care of the funeral home, 601 Ind., Lawrence, KS, 66044.
Clara Mary Seele Christenson was born December 4, 1910, to Anna (Teacutter) and Guendher Seele on a farm near Zeandale, Kansas. In the spring of 1920, the Seele family, including brother Harold, moved to a farm two miles west of Lawrence. Clara attended Bracket grade school and Liberty Memorial High School. Clara and Everett Christenson were married on March 4, 1933. Their two sons, Leslie Eugene (1934) and Edward Wayne (1937) were born while they lived at 1304 Tennessee St. in Lawrence.
In the early 1940’s, Clara found that she enjoyed being a working partner in the plumbing and appliance firm her husband had established at 814 Massachusetts St. Her growing ability to manage the office freed Everett to do marketing and networking. By 1946, their business had evolved and the name was changed to Central LP Gas Company. They moved their office and showroom into the modern style building that Everett designed and built at 23rd & Learnard St. Then they build a new home and raised their sons on the same property with their business. As their business prospered, a highlight of each year was the annual LP Gas convention at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel.
Tragedy struck on March 13, 1959, when their younger son Edward was killed instantly in an auto accident. How does one absorb that kind of blow and keep meeting the requirements of a thriving business? Somehow they managed. Then in 1963, they sold the LP Gas business, and began early retirement.
Summers were spent in the home they built on Fox Island in Washington State. Family, friends, and business associated were invited to come and enjoy the cool air of Puget Sound and Clara’s salmon dinners. The bounty of Fox Island’s fruit harvest enticed Clara to revisit the canning and jelly-making activities of her early marriage. The resulting products were shared with friends and loved ones when they returned to Kansas each autumn. Some of that bounty even made it to New York City on their annual Christmas visits with son Leslie.
Back in Lawrence for the remainder of the year, Clara enjoyed working on her lawn and flower beds while Everett expanded his interest in real estate. Many Saturday evenings were spent together with friends, dining and dancing at the new Elks Lodge. Travel provided interesting and sometimes challenging adventures, including visits several times to all of the states, a six-week auto tour of northern Europe, a dusty drive to and through the then new state of Alaska, and an eye-opening tour of several Asian nations.
In 1976, the Christensons recaptured their youth by building a home with all the modern conveniences of living in Lawrence, but on a farm west of the newly developed Lake Clinton. Clara and Everett were in the process of celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1983 when Everett died suddenly from a massive stroke.
Later that year, Clara bought the home at 3616 Harvard Road and moved back into Lawrence. There she enjoyed thoughtful neighbors and continued her interest in flower gardening. As a widow, she traveled with friends to Europe several times, to Mexico, to the Caribbean, and to most of the states. Twice a year, she visited her son Leslie, and interior designer, in New York City.
Clara moved into an apartment at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor in 1995. She appreciated the thoughtfulness and kindness of fellow residents and staff, especially when she moved to the assisted living section of the Manor in December of 2010 after celebrating her 100th birthday.
Clara is survived by her son, Leslie E. Christenson of Berryton, Kansas; nieces Lois Norris Brewster of Independence, Missouri, Donna Norris Sintz of Charlotte, North Carolina, Janice Norris Fountain of Blue Springs, Missouri, Doris Christenson Enke of Holden, Missouri, Karen Christenson Kenworthy of Columbia, Missouri; and nephews Fred Christenson of Holden, Missouri, George Taylor of Lawrence, Kansas, and Herbert Taylor of Bennington, Vermont.