James Albert Christensen passed away at the Hampton Care Center on January 14, 2013 exactly seven weeks after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
He was born September 25, 1921 in Carrollton, Mich., to Iva (King) and Albert Christensen. He grew up in Saginaw, Mich., and graduated from St. Andrews High School, where he was on the Eucharistic committee, English club, Socialty fellowship, and the football team.
After graduation he worked for a General Motors plant that was converting to machine guns for the coming war.
Mr. Christensen joined the US Navy in 1942 and went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Ill. He was then sent to the University of Minnesota for further training. His next base was at the torpedo testing range in Montauk, NY. While there he met his future wife, Leatrice Lorraine Basile at one of the dances held at the Montauk Manor.
Later he was at Providence, R.I. and was assigned to the cargo/attack ship USS Athene, AKA 22. The ship provided other naval vessels with vital supplies and also landed Marines at the battles of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and other Pacific islands. When Japan surrendered, “Chris” (his Navy nickname that stayed with him the rest of his life) spent time in Yokosuka, Japan. He received the American Area Ribbon and WWII Victory Ribbon. The USS Athene was awarded two battle stars for WWII service.
In June 1946 he married Leatrice (Lea) Basile in Christ Church, Sag Harbor, and moved to Saginaw. They later returned here and he worked as a glazier for Riverhead Glass Co. for over 20 years. When they closed he worked for Robert E. Otto Glass Co. for over 25 years.
Mr. Christensen enjoyed reading and woodworking, making many things for his home and family, including a two-story dollhouse with furniture for his oldest granddaughter, whose own daughter now has it.
Prior to hip surgery three-and-a-half years ago, Mr. Christensen and older son, Jim, were the only father and son veterans to march in the Memorial Day parades, the father a Navy vet of WWII and the son a Navy vet of Vietnam.
Mr. Christensen loved to play the harmonica and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren always enjoyed listening to him, said the family.
Pre-deceased by a baby granddaughter, Tricia Christensen, a brother, Edward, and sister, June, he is survived by his wife, his son James Russell Christensen of Sag Harbor, daughter Toni-Lea Corwin and husband Tim, of Southampton, and son Richard Alan Christensen and wife Melinda of Southampton.
He is also survived by grandchildren Tamara Corwin Tillman and husband Glenn of Athens, Ga.; Jonathon Travis Corwin and fiancée Katie Dunn of Southampton; Alyssa Lorraine Christensen and fiancé Joe Brush of Southampton; Karianne Elizabeth Corwin of Monterey, Calif.; and Justin Richard Christensen of Southampton. Also, his great-grandchildren, Cory and Annalea Tillman of Athens, Ga.
In Michigan he leaves sisters Betty Mehl, Donna Furio and Shirley Dowd, plus twin brothers Jerry and Larry Christensen. Also many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial took place at St. Andrews Church on January 23, with Fr. Peter officiating. Interment was in the Basile family plot at Oakland Cemetery. Memorials can be made to St. Andrews Church or the Sag Harbor Ambulance Fund, PO Box 2725, Sag Harbor.
“Chris will be sadly missed by those who love him, and never forgotten,” said the family. “Someday we will all meet again in a far better place than this world.”