Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 at 05:50:57 :
San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002
CHRISTY, Myron Mathias "Chris" - Died in his sleep at home with his family on Dec. 27 in Larkspur, California, at age 85. He was born on May 26, 1917 in Seattle, Washington to Danish immigrants Elsie and Harold Christensen. As a teenager exploring the Cascade and Olympic mountains, he first fell in love with the natural world. It was an attachment that only grew after he was sent to Juneau, Alaska in 1938 by General Electric Supply Corp. Hiking, skiing, hunting and fishing occupied his off hours, as he forged what would become a lifelong relationship with the territory, and later the state. In 1940 he enlisted in the Alaska National Guard, 297th Infantry, Company A, and was appointed an officer when the guard was activated for federal service in September, 1941. He advanced rapidly to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit. By the end of the war he was Chief Transportation Officer, Alaskan Department, duty that included oversight of the federally-owned Alaska Railroad. Forty years later, in 1985, Alaska's governor appointed him one of the original members of the railroad's board of directors when the line was transferred to state ownership. While serving in Anchorage Chris met Mary Janice Deeds, originally from Minnesota, and they married on Dec. 28, 1945. Their marriage was an unusually deep and true love affair that lasted 57 years. Mary always came first in his life. Thanks to the GI Bill, Chris attended the University of Minnesota where, in 1948, he earned a bachelor of business administration degree with high distinction and a specialization in transportation. In 1969, the university recognized him as a graduate of outstanding achievement. In 1955, he completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. In 1949, he moved his family to San Francisco to become an internal auditor for the Western Pacific Railroad. It was the beginning of what became a distinguished business career and leadership role in the city. In 1965 he became president as well as a director of the railroad, a post he held until 1970 when he became a consultant and director of US Leasing International, and president of Rail-US Leasing Inc. He was a director of several other corporations and of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Chris lent his leadership talents to numerous social causes, most particularly as chairman of the YMCA of San Francisco and to the Boy Scouts of America. Believing strongly in the value of education, he dedicated 35 years of service to the board of Golden Gate University, including a term as chairman. In recognition, the University twice awarded him honorary degrees, and in 2001, named him a Life Trustee. Throughout his career he contributed generously to many professional and civic organizations, but it was the Bohemian Club and the friendships he found there that drew his most active participation and loyalty. Chris had an exceptional intellect coupled with an intense curiosity about the world, a questing that found expression in worldwide travel with his family, in close observation of nature, and in ceaseless reading. His family is grateful that his sharp analytic skills and unequalled memory stayed with him to his final day. A quiet, dignified and unpretentious man, he was known for his great integrity and wisdom. He served as a role model for many younger men, and he enjoyed his role as mentor. But in his last days he identified his happy and loving family life as his greatest joy. His children, son John (wife Beate) of Panama City, Republic of Panama, and daughter Susan Bottles (husband Kim) of Bainbridge Island, Washington, were secure in his unconditional love and trust, and they loved him in return. He took great pride in his grandsons Derek (wife Rebecca Galfer) and Brent Bottles of Seattle and granddaughters Melissa and Allison of Panama, and they, too, loved him. He is also survived by his dear sister Aimee Sumner of Pacifica, California. A private memorial service is planned. In lieu of flowers, his family would appreciate memorial contributions in his name to the YMCA of San Francisco, to Hospice of Marin or to a charity of your choice.
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