Photography

John A. Christians

October 28, 1936 ~ September 8, 2021 (age 84)

Obituary

John Christians, native of Denver, Colorado, was a remarkable man, always ready with a warm smile and a story to tell. He never met a dog, a little child, or a bowl of ice cream that he didn’t love.

His allegiance to Colorado never wavered – his happiest memories were of hiking in the high mountains, trout fishing, or riding the rapids of sparkling streams on a huge rubber inner tube.

His unassuming manner belied the achievements, recognition and awards that filled his professional life. In 1958, he graduated from Colorado School of Mines with honors (Tau Beta Pi – the historic engineering honorary equivalent to Phi Beta Kappa), was a class officer, and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) social fraternity.

Following his Army Reserve Officer active duty at the US Army Research & Development Center in Fort Belvoir, VA, John worked briefly for Mobil Oil Company in Venezuela. He was welcomed back to the 1000+ employee Fort Belvoir R&D Center, and began a long and successful career of leadership. During his tenure at Fort Belvoir, he was awarded 8 patents for inventions involving military equipment and personnel. 

In 1966, his excellent education, enthusiasm, and tireless work ethic were recognized with his selection in a Washington DC contest as Outstanding Young Engineer of the year.  Earning a year’s sabbatical, he received a Master’s Degree in Engineering Administration from George Washington University in 1970.  

With his belief in the importance of good education, he accepted the appointment to serve a five-year term on the School Board of Fairfax County, VA, one of the country’s largest school systems, with more than 160,000 students. 

In 1978, John was honored to be chosen to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), located at Fort McNair, in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to prepare selected military and civilians for strategic leadership and success in directing national security strategy. 

At the R&D Center, his expertise, overall knowledge of its many functions and his leadership style of “management by walking around” (usually with a huge cup of coffee and a big smile) continued while he served as the Center’s Associate Technical Director. He was honored with the Superior Civilian Service Award – the second highest award of the Department of the Army for its civilian employees. The medal is the civil service equivalent of the military Legion of Merit. 

Over many years, John and his wife, Bev, offered a beacon of welcome in Washington DC to diplomats who were military representatives from other countries. Their dinner parties were known as ‘the place to be’ and fostered a spirit of international camaraderie and lasting friendships. 

Upon retiring near their daughter Jill in Boston, John became active in many organizations. For the Garden Club of Back Bay, John used his woodworking skills to build easels so members could more easily stand to create their fabulous Christmas wreaths. For the Friends of Copley Square, he was up on ladders helping to decorate the stage for holiday programs, or covered with feathers helping arrange for their big Mardi Gras galas, then joyfully dancing all night. For the Worcester Street Community Garden, he built raised beds for garden lovers with disabilities. For Beacon Hill Seminars, whose mission is "continued intellectual growth,” he immensely enjoyed sharing his scientific knowledge in many class discussions. 

John’s friends described him as kind, loving, generous, patient, smart, funny and strong. He always had a nice word to say. He was known for his witty replies, his storytelling, his blue eyes and ready smile. He took delight in surprising children walking by the front steps with ‘blow bubble’ kits and watching their eyes light up. He thought of many of Jill’s friends as ‘adopted daughters,’ offering rides and help with home projects. Also special to him were the Thorpe family, currently living in Denmark. John and Bev had just celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary, and all the family enjoyed a special Father’s Day this summer before his health failed. Our hope is that he’s enjoying his delicious carrot cake or a huge ice cream sundae under CO blue skies in heaven. We cherish all these memories of his favorite things. 

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate receiving small notes with your favorite memories of John.  A small private memorial service is planned, due to COVID.

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