The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


June 5, 2013

Sue Christiansen

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Dec. 14, 1923 – June 2, 2013

Former Danville school teacher Sue Christiansen, 89, of Huntsville, Ala., passed away June 2 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Born Dec. 14, 1923, in Danville, she was the daughter of a Disciples of Christ minister from Charleston, S.C., who later served in the Illinois state legislature.

While serving a church in Sidell, her father, Augustus deGafferelly, met his wife-to-be, Leslie Green. The young family moved to Greensboro, N.C., where Sue started first grade.

When the Depression hit they moved back to Illinois to live with relatives. Sue graduated from Danville High School in 1941. She was a French horn player in the marching band. In 1945 Sue graduated from Illinois State University in Bloomington. It was there in Bloomington she met a young lieutenant, Howard “Chris” Christiansen, back from World War II.

Sue and Chris married in 1946. Sue taught fourth grade at Fairchild Elementary and McKinley Elementary and managed the family’s portrait studio, Chris Photo. Long before the invention of Photoshop, Sue was retouching negatives by hand. She also was skilled at adding color to black and white portraits. She liked returning to her high school alma mater to help Chris photograph the annual school dances.

Sue Christiansen was an active member of Central Christian Church. She taught Sunday school and was a leader in the church’s Christian Women’s Fellowship group.

In 1964 the family moved to Huntsville, Ala., where she continued teaching elementary school. She started an accredited pre-school program at her church, and she began a successful cross stitch business in Huntsville.

If there’s one thing Sue loved to do through-out her life it was cook and entertain. It wasn’t uncommon to have 30 hungry friends at her home. They weren’t stuffy formal affairs, just lots of good friends and plenty of hugs. Sue spent many hours preparing meals to take to shut-ins around town. There also were many trips to the hospital and nursing homes where she comforted the sick. She practiced the principles of her Christian faith all her life.

Sue and her husband, Chris, joined the Friendship Force Organization and traveled throughout Europe, South America and Australia, staying with host families. In turn, families from around the globe would stay at their home in Huntsville.

Sue Christiansen is survived by her husband, Chris; daughter, Debbie Thompson; sons, Dick and Tim; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her sister, Lynn Lawhorn; and her brother, Dean Hillis deGafferelly.

Visitation will be noon-1 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at First Christian Church, Huntsville, Ala., immediately followed by the funeral service. Burial will be in Valhalla Memory Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to First Christian Church’s Early Childhood Ministry.

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