"The Old Viking"
My Beloved, Creative, Relentlessly Positive, Hilarious & Charming Father
Carl W. Christensen, age 95
by Karin Christensen Wells
20" x 24" Oil on Linen
What do you give somebody who is going to celebrate his 100th Birthday?-
Dad was always looking for something new to try so art lessons with Melody Russell (shown above) was the perfect gift.
Painting quickly became a passion for Carl (something had to tear him away from his computer). He basked in the glow of all the attention he got for his paintings - the newspapers loved him and he gave a great interview.
Here he is with my favorite painting, "Sunflowers." But each new one he painted was his "favorite."
One of the unusual things about my dad's experience with growing old was his attitude. He went to the eye doctor and they said that he had macular degeneration and that he was legally blind.
He said, "nonsense" and went out and bought himself a bigger magnifying glass. It took some work, but he reconfigured his computer screen so his type was larger and that was when he really began his passion with painting.
Not bad for a really old blind guy, eh? Dad was relentlessly positive and just wouldn't quit.
He was as sharp as a tack, kept up with all of his technical journals, led a daily aerobics class, kept in touch with everybody he knew via email. He thought his computer was the best invention ever and was delighted that he lived long enough to have one.
This is my favorite painting by Carl Christensen. Watercolor, "Sunflowers."
Carl W. Christensen (age 102) peacefully passed away on Tuesday evening, February 7, 2006 in Peterborough, NH, surrounded by family and friends.
He was born in Highland Park, IL, the eldest son of Danish parents who, having second thoughts about leaving Denmark, returned there for two years. He and his parents then immigrated to the United States where he was raised in Spring Creek, PA. He also lived in Hinsdale, IL and Beverly, MA. He was able to travel to Denmark again at the age of 90 with his daughter.
However, the best part of his golden years were spent in residence at Summerhill in Peterborough, NH. He was actively involved in chatting with old friends via email, and led a daily aerobics class for his fellow residents. Carl thoroughly enjoyed life, always had a passion for learning something new and considered each day to be a grand adventure.
Carl was a member of the Peterborough Rotary where he was named a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a Past Master of the Masonic Lodge in Hinsdale, IL. At the age of 101 “The Old Viking” discovered a talent for painting and eventually had a one-man show of his watercolors at Summerhill.
During his long industrial career with several divisions of Armour and Co. (later Dial) and the Shipley Co. (later Rohm & Haas) he worked in Chemical research and development in areas as diverse as food chemistry, fats and oils, leather, and the breakthrough chemistry which allowed for the production of microchips in computers. He was a member of the American Chemical society for 74 years. He held over 40 patents for his work.
He graduated as valedictorian from Corry High School in Corry, PA in 1921 and earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State in 1927.
He was predeceased by his wife and beloved soul mate of 62 years, Ruth Mitchell Christensen.
Carl is cherished in the hearts of his children: Craig M. Christensen of Hudson, OH and Karin Wells of Peterborough, NH; 4 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Humankind has lost one of its most loving, caring, gentle, and beautiful souls and he will be sorely missed.
At 102, he had an art show of his paintings - why wait? He was thrilled that all the papers covered this - it was quite an event.