Wayne and Mary Christensen


After nearly 74 years of marriage, Mary Theresa Christensen, 94, and Wayne E. Christensen, 97, of Lafayette, Colorado have gone to their rest within 48 hours of each other. Mary on April 27 and Wayne on April 29, 2024.

Mary Theresa (Thiel) Christensen was born on December 3, 1929 to Fred and Bridget (Conway) Thiel on a small farm outside Graettinger, Iowa. She graduated Britt High School in 1948 and went to graduate from Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Wayne E. Christensen was born on March 11,1927 to Elmer and Anna (Sondergaard) Christensen in Thornton, Iowa. He graduated from Thornton High School in 1944 and then went on to enlist in the Navy. After he returned from his Service he attended Hamilton Business College, Mason City , Iowa.

Wayne and Mary met in 1949 at the City Cafe in Thornton, Iowa. Both drawn to each other’s smiles and laughter. They were then united in marriage August 1, 1950 at Saint Patrick’s Church in Britt, Iowa. A true partnership that would last nearly 74 years. In 1952 Wayne and Mary bought a small grocery store, Christensen’s Grocery, in Swea City, Iowa. The beginning of their lives of entrepreneurship. Then in 1965 Wayne and Mary moved to Estherville, Iowa. Wayne sold cars for Henaman Motors Ford and Mary worked at Sears. In 1968 they bought the Gift Garden from Bernice Clark and renamed it Chris’ Fashions. Through hard work and dedication their businesses continued to grow to include clothing, shoes, jewelry, and gifts at multiple locations: Estherville, Okoboji, Arnold’s Park and Emmetsburg, Iowa.

Wayne and Mary had a very strong commitment to family, friends, and the community. In 1970 they built a lake home on East Okoboji, a loving home for family and friends to enjoy. In 1974 they moved to West Okoboji, a home that welcomed even more family and friends. Wayne and Mary loved to entertain and share the beauty of the Lakes Area. Nothing made them more happy than a house full of joy and laughter. Wayne and Mary enjoyed the independence of owning and operating successful businesses and the simple pleasures of life, whether it be a boat ride, enjoying friends and family, attending a grandchild’s school or sporting event, to a Rockies or Nuggets game. Mary was engaged with her neighbors and friends and enjoyed impromptu visits and dinner parties. She loved to entertain, especially around the holidays. Wayne was very interested and connected to the local business community, enjoyed attending the Estherville High School sporting events, and a nightly relaxing boat ride. They touched many lives, spanning many generations with their love of people and welcoming arms. They embraced the community and were generous to all they came across.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents Fred and Bridget Thiel and infant older brother.

Wayne is preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Anna Christensen, brother Jack Christensen, and brother Don Christensen. He is survived by his sister Betty Gerencser, sister MaryAnn and Bob Bensch, and sister-in law Judy Christensen.

Wayne and Mary are survived by their children: Kevin and Cindy Christensen, Kelly Eddy, and Kathleen Slater, seven grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Visitation was held at Darrell Howe Mortuary, Lafayette, Colorado from 10-10:30 a.m., Funeral Services followed at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 7, 2024. A Committal Service with Military Honors followed at Louisville Cemetery. A reception was held at the VFW, Lafayette, Colorado from 12:30-2:30 p.m.