Jan Frederick Christensen passed away surrounded by family on July 14, 2020, after a valiant fight with cancer. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 50 years, Ruth, their eight children, Suzy (Ray), Richard (Kaylene), Melissa (Adam), Kathrine (Walter), Thamina, Lucille (Scott), Annette (Jason), and Paul (Ashley), 35 grandchildren, and his three siblings, Steve (Judy), Ann, and Chris (Laurie).
Jan was born to Richard Fred and Lucille Dyreng Christensen on November 30, 1946, in Riverside, California. The oldest of four children, Jan became an example for his siblings with his love of music, silliness, and service. Jan graduated from Ramona High School in 1965 and attended Brigham Young University that fall. He served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Switzerland Zurich Mission, where he developed a lifelong love for the German language, food, and people.
Jan met his future wife, Ruth Kelly, in the summer of ’69. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 28, 1970. Jan graduated cum laude from BYU with a degree in chemistry. He and Ruth moved to Riverside where Jan earned a medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. A residency in family practice medicine brought Jan and Ruth's growing family to Charleston, South Carolina, for three years.
Jan and Ruth chose to set up his private practice in Gunnison, Utah. In 1978, the Christensens settled in “the pink house” next to Gunnison Valley Hospital, where Jan served the Gunnison community for 34 years until his retirement. He worked in different capacities at the hospital, including chief of medical staff. During that tenure, he helped expand and renovate the hospital, bringing modern facilities and equipment to the community.
Jan founded a 15-member stage band, “All That Jazz,” with his wife and they performed throughout the community. He loved to volunteer his time and musical talents to local theater productions as a member of the Gunnison Valley High School musical orchestra.
Jan served in many callings as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including bishop of the Gunnison 2nd Ward, stake young men’s president, and counselor in the stake presidency. He and his wife served an 18-month mission in Mexico as medical area advisors and a 6-month mission in the Canada Vancouver Mission. They were serving in the Manti Temple as ordinance workers before the pandemic closed the temple.
Jan’s greatest joy was being surrounded by his family. He often commented during family gatherings that these were a prelude to the Celestial Kingdom. Jan’s life was filled with a love and devotion for Jesus Christ and he exemplified the meaning of kindness to all he met. We will miss you, Dad!
A virtual memorial service will be held Sunday, July 26th at 6pm MDT. To attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the information.
A viewing will take place at Memorial Mountain View Mortuary (3115 Bengal Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, UT) on Monday, July 27th from 11am to 1pm MDT followed by a private graveside service. Due to COVID-19, we ask that all attendees wear a mask and practice social distancing.