Clayton Christensen

Clayton L. Christensen, 95, of Storm Lake, died Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake.

Funeral services will be held Friday, Jan. 19, at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Storm Lake. Burial will be in Buena Vista Memorial Park Cemetery in Storm Lake. Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Home in Storm Lake is in charge of the arrangements. 

Clayton L. Christensen was born July 7, 1922 in Moorhead, the son of Tenus and Meddie (Losh) Christensen. Growing up in the Loess Hills with his parents and two sisters he enjoyed the beauty and the seasons that surrounded him.

As a young boy he attended school in Moorhead where at age 16, he graduated from Moorhead High School in a class of 15 students. He worked with his dad on the farm for a couple of years before beginning his education at Wayne State University. His education was interrupted when he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he was a 2nd Lieutenant during World War II. While in the military, Clayton was educated at Carlton College for Meteorology; Yale University for Communications; and Harvard and MIT for Mass Electronics. He was honorably discharged on March 1, 1946. He then continued his education at Iowa State University where he graduated with a bachelors degree in electrical engineering in 1948.

On July 1, 1944 while in the military, Clayton was united in marriage to Helen Emma Rink at Yale University Chapel in New Haven, Conn. Together, they were blessed with three daughters: Barbara, Carole and Diane. They provided a loving and nurturing home for their family.

He worked for IPS (now, Mid American Energy) for 36 years. He began as a district and field engineer in Le Mars and Storm Lake and eventually assumed the position of chief engineer and vice president of engineering at the Sioux City corporate office. He retired in 1984 after 36 years. IPS and his career were very important to him and many of his coworkers became lifelong friends.

Following his retirement, he and Helen moved to Ames where he was an adjunct professor at ISU teaching electrical engineering courses, and administered research projects and extension courses in power for several years.

In 1985, Clayton and Helen returned to Storm Lake. Helen passed away in early 1988.

On Feb. 11, 1989, Clayton was united in marriage to Helen’s widowed sister, Martha Vang Rink. Together they joined their families which included seven daughters (all cousins). They enjoyed nearly 27 years together before her death in 2015.

Clayton was an active member of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Storm Lake from its early beginnings. His faith was very important to him.

Rotary was an important influence on his life. He was honored in 2013 as a 60-year member. He served as president of the Storm Lake Rotary Club and District Governor in 1970 and 1971. He led groups of Rotarians to both Japan and South Africa. He was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. He hosted three Rotary exchange students in Storm Lake and Sioux City.

Clayton enjoyed life to its fullest. Everyday was filled with purpose. He enjoyed many hobbies such as photography and developing his own prints. He did matting and framing, stained glass, and wood working. He loved the out of doors, landscaping, and gardening. He was an accomplished skier and travelled extensively in Australia, Japan, and Europe making friends in all areas of the world.

Family was very important to Clayton. His example of a life well lived will always remain with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and those who knew him. He will be deeply missed.

Those left to cherish his memory include his children: Barbara (Jim) Jorgensen of Storm Lake; Dr. Carole (Dan Peters) Christensen of Grand Junction, Colo.; Diane (Don) Bezdicek of Hastings, Minn.; grandchildren: Jeff (Jordan) Jorgensen of Storm Lake; Chris (Stephanie) Jorgensen of West Des Moines; Jessica (Kevin) Denton of Eagle, Colo.; Adam (fiancé, Lauren) Bezdicek of Minneapolis, Minn.; Ryan (Erin) Bezdicek of Goodyear, Ariz.; Kelly (Forrest Hoyt) Christensen of Missoula, Mont.; great-grandchildren, Vivian and June Jorgensen; Jenna and Chloe Jorgensen; Jack Bezdicek; and sister, Norma Jean (Marv) Lauritsen of Woodruff, Wis. In addition, he is survived by Martha’s daughters: Linda (Keith) Roles of Apple Valley, Minn.; Marion (Gary) Graham of Hutchinson, Minn.; Norma Vang of St. Paul, Minn.; and Brenda (Jim Fittz) Vang of Denver, Colo.; Martha’s grandchildren: Lisa (Brian) Tonn, Kristi (Joe) Blee, Heather (Rob) Weinmann, Troy (Melanie) Graham, Michael (Tessa) Graham, Christoffer (Sonja) Graham, Ryan (Katie) Bicek, Kevin (Laura) Fittz, Tyler (Tanya) Fittz; 20 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild; extended family and friends.

Clayton was preceded in death by his parents, Tenus and Meddie Christensen; sister, Frances LaSeur; wives, Helen Christensen and Martha Christensen; and Martha’s oldest daughter, Judy Vang.