Charles Maurice “Charlie” Christianson died on May 4, 2019 in Atlanta, GA where he lived on his own terms for nine years. Charlie did not make it to his goal of 100 years old, but as he said, “I enjoyed my life”, departing for Heaven at the age of 97.
On February 17, 1922, Charlie was born in East Longmeadow, MA to his beloved parents, Harry “Pop” Christianson, and Jane Veronica Bourgoise. He was delivered at home, on the family farm, during a snowstorm by Dr. Starbuck, a woman. Later in life, when Charlie told the story of his birth he never forgot to say, “A woman doctor in 1922, if you can image that!” As he talked with family and reflected back on his start in life, he became an advocate of women, equality issues, and a great reporter of the weather to anyone who asked.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Jane Christianson of East Longmeadow, MA; his wife, Margaret “Peg” Fellion of Hudson, FL; four siblings including an infant; Margaret Balch, of Connecticut; Harry Christianson and Alice Lemoine (née Christianson), both of East Longmeadow, MA. Also, his two brothers-in law, Bill Sienkiewicz and Raymond Lemoine also of East Longmeadow, MA; his son-in-law, Richard J. McKillop of Jacksonville, FL; two daughters-in-law, Anna Radenberg of California and E-Ching Christianson of Massachusetts; and two great-grandchildren including Brianna Medlen of California.
Proving the Christianson clan has amazing longevity, he is survived by three sisters, the eldest, Anna Mae Marron of Alstead, NH; Kay Thomas and his baby sister Sally Sienkiewicz, both of East Longmeadow, MA. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Kurt Thomas, and his sister-in-law, Phyllis Christianson, both of East Longmeadow, MA.
Born and raised in East Longmeadow, MA; he graduated from Springfield Trade School and was selected by Pratt and Whitney into an elite team to build airplane engines for the Douglas Bomber 7 (DB-7) and the Douglas Bomber 3 (B-3). He owned several auto repair garages in the Massachusetts area; worked for Snap-On Tools in Nevada and California; and ultimately retired from General Electric in 1985, where he most notably worked on the transformers for the monorail systems at Walt Disney World.
A member of the greatest generation (especially if he was telling the story), he honorably served in the Merchant Marines during World War II, in the Pacific and European theaters on Liberty Ships. He first worked as a cook on the S.S. Frank H. Dodd and then as a mate on the S.S. Mercy Warren. He loved telling stories of his time in Papua, New Guinea and when his Liberty Ship literally split in two, at sea, on the way to Europe. The ingenious crew of thirty men, tossed the tanks they were transporting overboard. They then took the torpedo nets off the sides of the ship and stretched them from stem to stern to hold the ship together. Once they were sure the ship would not sever in half, they proceeded to repair the weld on the center of the ship and continued safely to London, England. Certainly, a heroic effort by great men.
On August 30, 1941, before he left for the war, he married his spirited partner, Peg at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Springfield, MA. They loved like they debated, perpetually and to the end. They met on a blind date, married, sang, danced, traveled, played cards, worked for years on their boat that never left port and enjoyed cocktails like the sailors they were. They walked the path of life, united and enjoyed every step.
Nine years ago, Charlie visited family in Atlanta and never left. After suffering a heart attack in 2011, his health deteriorated while his mighty, persevering spirit never diminished. Charlie loved life and was not prepared, at that time, to leave it. He was told several times, he had months to live and he would tell the doctors, “Well, I think if I just do my exercises, and walk a little, I will be fine.” He frequently noted how much he appreciated the doctors and nurses at Emory University for his amazing care. However, they did send him home four times, over almost a decade, with six months to live. Charlie with his witty sense of humor, would like them to know, “I told you so”. God Bless his big, athletic heart for hanging in there as he taught his cherished friends how to play poker, called endless rounds of Bingo, sang karaoke, danced, went to the movies, out for meals and hosted a weekly happy hour party (and he might have snuck a few Captain Morgan and Diet Cokes along the way)!
Charlie was extremely proud of his many descendants, including his eldest son and name sake, Charles R. Christianson (married to Ruthanne Cerrato) of Wilbraham, MA; his son Richard Christianson of Moodus, CT; and his daughter Jeanne McKillop (née Christianson) of Ormond Beach, FL.
He often remarked about the many grandchildren his three children gave him. His eldest grandson and another namesake, Charles A. Christianson (married Karen Kelly) of East Longmeadow, MA; Sharon Brennan (née Christianson) of Clarksberg, MD; Tracy Shea (née Christianson, married to Kevin) of Groton, MA; Kelly Strout (née Christianson, married to Brian) of Wilbraham, MA; Kimberly Cabezas (née Christianson, married to Oscar) of Lone Pine, CA; Jennifer McKillop (and her partner Charles Nearon) of Atlanta, GA; Katherine LaComb (née McKillop, married to Edward) of Ormond Beach, FL; Aaron Christianson and Ryan Christianson both of Gilbertville, MA.
The great-grandchildren include Ashley Christianson of Lone Pine, CA; Kelly Ndisanze (née Christianson, married to Ben) of Swanzey, NH; Megan Christianson, of East Longmeadow, MA; Wesley Brennan of Clarksberg, MD; Elissa Shea of Groton, MA; Aeden Shea of Groton, MA; Hannah McKillop of Atlanta, GA; Leah Brennan of College Park, MD; Meryl Shea of Boston, MA; Cameron Christianson of Lone Pine, CA; Ashley Strout of Wilbraham, MA; Ellery Shea of Groton, MA; Nolan Brennan of Clarksberg, MD; Alexander LaComb of Ormond Beach, FL; and Maddox Christianson and William Christianson both of Gilbertville, MA.
Charlie proudly had two great-great grandchildren, Arianna Christianson of Lone Pine, CA and Baby Ndisanze, of Swanzey, NH. Charlie had the joy of meeting Baby Ndisanze in March, due in July 2019. Those direct family members combined with his cousins, approximately eighteen nieces and eighteen nephews, countless grand, great-grand and great-great grand cousins, nieces and nephews truly create an incredible lineage. Job well done Charlie and Peg!
The family would like to thank the amazing staff at summer’s Landing Assisted Living in Atlanta, GA or in Charlie’s word’s, “the most amazing place on Earth.” Sharon Youngblood, Lisa Mobley and all of the caregivers, who in the past six years have become our extended family, we thank and love you all.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to the East Longmeadow Veterans Memorial. We would like to place a remembrance to honor Charlie and his fellow servicemen of World War II. Please help us obtain Charlie’s lifelong goal of having a monument dedicated to his fellow veterans and his service by donating generously to: E.L. Veterans Memorial c/o People’s Bank, 201 North Main Street, East Longmeadow, MA 01028 and most importantly, please indicate the name CHARLES CHRISTIANSON on the memo line of your check.
Come and bid farewell to Charlie at Hafey’s Funeral Home from 5 PM to 8 PM, Thursday, May 16 located at 494 Belmont Avenue, Springfield, MA 01108. All are welcome to attend the 11:30 AM funeral Mass on Friday, May 17, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church located at 128 Maple Street, East Longmeadow, MA 01028 with internment immediately following the funeral at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery located at 1390 Main Street, Agawam, MA 01001.
All family and friends who attend the services are welcome to join us for a meal at Storrowton Tavern & Carriage House in the Massachusetts Room located at 1305 Memorial Avenue West, Springfield, MA 01089 at 2 PM. In order to adequately prepare for the repast, please email with your name and the number of guests in your immediate party to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, May 13, 2019 by 5 PM.