Kenneth Robert Christensen “Kenny” was a good man and one of my favorite uncles. He had a sense of humor and was a man’s, man!
Jill and I attended Uncle Kenny’s funeral in Monticello, Utah Saturday, August 6th. We had the pleasure to visit with some family members that we haven’t seen in quite a while. It was good to see them again, and I regret that I haven’t taken the time to visit them more often.
My first cousin, Nancy Dunow (Kenny’s daughter), wrote and delivered the following talk at the funeral. She did such a great job that I wanted to make it the primary focus of this post in remembrance of Uncle Kenny.
Kenneth Robert Christensen 9-4-1929 to 8-2-2016
“If you know anything about me, you know I don’t do this sort of thing. However, since it is for my dad, I am honored to be asked. It doesn’t take away the fright, and I hope I don’t pass out! But, if I do pass out, just let me enjoy the short nap. Krista [Nancy’s daughter] has been warned that she is to come up and take over. In all seriousness I consider this to be my last chance to serve my dad that I love so much and who means the world to me.
“Kenneth Robert Christensen passed away peacefully surrounded by family, on August 2, 2016, at the San Juan Hospital, at the age of 86; just one month and two days short of turning 87. Dad was born September 4, 1929, in Monticello, Utah to Robert Neldon, and Myrtle Dalton Christensen. He was later joined by Joanne, Clyde, and Barbara. Joanne is the last surviving sibling.
“Dad talked very little of himself and it was hard to dig any stories out of him, especially about his time in military service. We tried many times.
“When Dad was a youngster he would often ride to Bluff to deliver mail with his Grandfather Christensen. He also helped his grandfather, Elmer Dalton herd cows. That’s when he acquired his desire to be a cowboy.
“In high school, he played basketball. During the summers he worked as a cowboy for Scorup and Sommerville. After graduating from high school, he attended Carbon College for a short time. Then he went to work for the State Road Department.
“On November 21, 1950, he was drafted into the US Army. He served on active duty in the Korean War. Dad was honorably discharged on February 15, 1952. While in the military, he received the Bronze Star, the Korean Service Medal, the UN Service Medal, and the Distinguished Unit Star. He made the rank of Sgt.
“After returning home from the army, Dad went back to work for the State Road Dept. While working on the highway south of Blanding at Comb Ridge, he was involved in a massive rock slide. His legs were injured; mainly the left one.
“This lingering injury plagued him for the rest of his life. Luckily it was not his time to leave this earth, but the injury affected him for the rest of his life causing him much pain. He never complained about it even though his injury gave him a limp when he walked.
“Dad started dating Maxine Palmer Russell of Blanding, Utah. In 1955, they fell in love and got married on November 10th of that same year. Of course, mom had a girlish crush on him long before they went out.
“Along with a new wife, Dad gained a beautiful (almost) 2-year-old daughter, Nancy Lynn… my mom made me say that part. He later adopted me and loved me as his own. I never felt like he treated me any differently.
“To this union, two children were born. Kena Lee in February 1957, and then his only son Michael Von was born in March 1958. Kena was born mentally disabled but has always been our special angel.
“Dad worked for the U.S. Postal Service for a short time and then went to work at the uranium mill south of Monticello until it closed. No one knew at the time about all the health issues that working at the mill could and would cause. His heart and lungs were damaged.
“Later, Dad got a job with the Bureau of Land Management. He stayed with them for the next 30 years until he retired in January 1995. He enjoyed his job and made many lasting friends.
“Dad had a special relationship with his daughter Kena. They would sit in their rocking chairs holding hands watching TV and tease each other. Kena sure loved her dad or (Ghee Ghee) as she often calls him.
“Dad was not a very religious man, but he did believe in the gospel and was an honest man with a very giving heart.
“In 1966 Dad and Mom were sealed in the Manti Temple and also had us kids sealed to them.
“Dad continued to love the cowboy life; loving cows and horses. He always wanted a ranch of his own. Finally, he was able to purchase 25 acres of land south of Monticello, with Bob Sparks as his partner.
“He raised cows and pigs for several years. When Bob moved to Salt Lake City, Dad bought him out and started raising “Paint” horses as a hobby for many years; he enjoyed this.
“One season, one of his mares had twin colts. He was so proud of them! I don’t know if Dad wanted Mike and me to love horses like he did or wanted to discourage us, but he got us a horse. We asked Kena what we should name it since she didn’t talk very well she said, “Bubbles” and the name stuck.
“Now just imagine my Dad shouting out, “Here Bubbles!” Anyway, Dad claimed that Bubbles was tame and had us up on her to ride. Either she wasn’t as gentle as he said or we were just terrible riders.
It never failed, but that horse would take off with us holding on for dear life or it would buck us off. We were both terrified, and dad finally gave up on Mike and me becoming great horsemen! I think he was secretly glad; then he could have Bubbles for himself to ride.
“When Pard Slade moved to Monticello, he and Dad developed a close relationship. ‘Pard I want you to tell me how you met sometime.’ They both enjoyed working with horses and doing all the jobs that the farm needed. Although I think their wives were not as happy as they were; with them being gone so much of the time either riding the horses, chasing cows, or going to the auctions in Cortez, CO.
“I think the farm was their little piece of heaven! Pard was at his side for many years and helped him with the duties of his little ranch or “Farm” as we called it. Dad and Pard were quite the pair! Pard was the best friend a cowboy like Dad could ever have! They really enjoyed each others company.
“As the years went by, Dad started having more and more problems with his old leg injury; making it difficult to walk. So, he started getting rid of his cows. Then, slowly and reluctantly, his horses; one by one. Gary [Nancy’s husband] was even going out to feed the horses so Dad could hold onto them as long as he could. Now that was desperation, as Dad had a hard time asking for help. You would just have to guess what he needed.
“For example, Gary and I would go down to their house and Dad would be trying to shovel snow. He had the shovel in one hand and his cane in the other. Even when he had to use two canes, he insisted on shoveling his snow unless we could get there before he could get out to do it.
“Dad slowly developed problems with his memory. But, he always knew his family and friends and could carry on a conversation with them. He was an amazing man!
“Dad is loved by his family. He took great pride in their accomplishments and watching them grow. Dad loved following his grandsons in their sports and activities. He would brag about them every chance he got. Dad loved and depended on Mom; although he didn’t express it verbally too often or at least where we could hear.
“I would sometimes hear her ask him if he loved her, and he would say, “Well, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t!” They shared 61 years together; just shy of three months. So, I can testify that he loved my mom very, very much! Or in his words… he wouldn’t be there if he didn’t!
“Dad would rarely tell us kids that he loved us; although we knew, he did. He had a gruff exterior and a heart of gold. For the last while, he would call just to ask, “What’s going on?” and as he was hanging up he would always say I love you!
“Mom received this poem in a card and loved it so much she asked if I would read it to you. Kay Andrew is the author.
God knows there will be sorrow,
So he gives us tears to cry.
He knows there will be trials
When his children ask him “Why?”
But he’s our Heavenly Father,
And he’ll take us by the hand
To lead us through the sorrows
That we cannot understand.
God has all the time we need…
He feels the pain we feel,
And He, above all others,
Knows a heart takes time to heal.
“We will all miss you Dad, and we love you very much. Life will never be the same without you and without seeing you hold up traffic in that little blue pickup!
“I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.”
Funeral Services Program: