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Donald Wayne Christensen 1927-2021


Posted By: Barry R Huntsinger (email)
Date: 8/29/2021 at 16:25:28

Donald Wayne Christensen, the son of Jens P. and Beulah Hornby Christensen was born in Estherville, Iowa on April 13, 1927. He attended elementary at the Blagg country school in Center Township, Emmet County, and then transferred to Estherville Schools in 7th grade, graduating in 1945.

On October 4, 1946, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Crook, Nebraska and did basic at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He then attained an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He then transferred to Stewart Field, receiving the status of Sergeant and entered the Military Academy on July 1, 1947. With the end of WWII, Don re-entered civilian life and began farming. He returned to service on September 12, 1951, due to the Korean Conflict and went to Officer Training School receiving a commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Armor Division. On September 20, 1953, Don returned to farming once again.

Donald was always building things, especially things that helped his farming operation. In his high school days, he built a shop at the farm with a jack shaft that ran across the ceiling and flat, leather belts then were coupled to drill presses and grinders. Due to rationing during WWII, he would scrounge metal from old equipment and build needed trailers, among other items. One of these trailers was still in use into the 70’s. It was at this time that Don had his only health issue when his appendix burst. He told of crawling up the old west stairs to Holy Family Hospital; he recuperated fine.

He met and married Wanda May Jacobsen on November 18, 1954, in Ringsted, Iowa. They made their home in rural Ringsted and began a 60 year career of farming. He always wanted to make things more efficient thereby purchasing 2 new 4 row planters and proceeded to torch them apart and conjoin them into an 8 row planter. For many years he did custom spraying for area farmers. His first sprayer was a tricycle gear that had an affinity to find tile wash-outs in the fields; this usually meant a sailing trip up and over the steering wheel. He later switched to 4 wheel drive Hagie brand sprayers and brought his sons into the business as operators.

Whereas he loved all aspects of farming, he really loved operating a combine. In his lifetime, he witnessed hand shucking corn into a horse drawn wagon with a bank board to running huge axial flow combines equipped with GPS yield monitoring systems. He insisted on walking his beans to rid them of weeds but always seemed to have other things to do, thereby leaving the task to his wife and sons.

As the operation grew, he acquired a grain handling elevator in Estherville. He streamlined this facility to accept wet corn, dry it, and store it for better pricing. He then brokered his own grain and shipped it by rail. Later as the construction business grew, he would travel a route to check on all the projects daily. He had a knack of showing up when things went wrong! To keep a better handle on things, he installed 2-way radios in all his equipment and vehicles, and you were expected to answer when radioed. The radio call letters were KYA-247 and Don’s call sign was Unit 1, a name he carried till his passing. Don hated rocks, weeds, and long hair, but loved S.P.A.M. He was known to need a filter and to answer his cell phone in church, because his kids probably needed him. He had a private pilot license and owned his own plane.

Donald was a morning person, usually leaving the house before sunup. True to form, in the early hours of August 21, he waited for one son to arrive as the other two wanted desperately to be there. In his mind, he just finished the last round of combining with a full tank of grain, and put out the radio call, “KYA-247 Unit 1 to Wanda.” His beloved wife radioed back from the grain truck, “Don, I’ve been waiting for you. Follow me, let's go to a new field.” With that he took his last breath.

Preceding Don in death are wife, Wanda; sister, Lorraine Hess; brothers-in-law, George Hess, Dave Jacobsen, and Leroy Jacobsen; nephew, Don Hess; parents, Beulah and Jens.

Left to remember Donald are his 3 sons, Steve and his children, Abbie and Gerad Albers (Minneapolis), Joel and Lauren (Spirit Lake), Kellie and fiancé, Joe (Spirit Lake); son, Roger and wife, Therese (Estherville) and their children, Emily and Jim Coniglio (Omaha) with their children, Zoey, Jimmie, Brody, Amelia Coniglio and Ellie and Jack Peterson, Michael and Kelsie (Spirit Lake) with their children, Caroline, Emma-Kate and Elliette, Amanda and Kris Kirchner (Spirit Lake) and their children, Michael, Leah, Hattie May and Kate, Marcus (West Des Moines), Daniel (Estherville), and Matthew (Ames); son, Dean and wife, Denise and their children Claire (Vancouver) and Lee (Anamosa).

The funeral service was held Saturday, August 28, 2021 at the United Methodist church in Estherville with interment at East Side Cemetery, Estherville.

(Source: Henry-Olson Funeral Home, Estherville, Iowa.)


Emmet Obituaries maintained by LaVern Velau.
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