Carl Ribon Christensen, Jr. was born June 23, 1931 in Greenville, Mississippi, to Carl, Sr. and Eugenia Kober Christensen. He was the first son, but the fourth child in a family of seven. Family members all call him "Sonny." In addition to being all boy, he had a thirst for knowledge and frequently could be found reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica. He was always creative and made various miniature items. He frequented a nearby bow factory where the workmen made sure that skinny kid had nice pieces of exotic wood "scraps." A miniature, working bow with arrows was one of his creations.
Following graduation from Greenville High School, Carl enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps. His unit was assigned to the USS Saipan, an aircraft carrier. Their job was to keep the planes flying. Probably the most dangerous event was a then-secret mission to deliver planes to the French who were not faring well in what was then called French Indochina. It was definitely a war zone for them, if not officially for the U. S. Two other countries he mentioned were Japan and Korea. Apparently the ship's Captain was about to retire, and the Saipan was going to go on a world cruise. Carl mentioned going through the Panama and Suez Canals, and going to Barcelona, Spain and Rome, Italy as well as Saudi Arabia and others. He would have liked to have returned to Rome as he loved the beautiful architecture. Medals listed on discharge papers were: National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal. He proudly wore his USS Saipan patch on his hat. He wore out his Marine Corps patch.
Because his parents and younger siblings had moved to Escondido, CA while he was in the service, he went there when he was discharged. Although his father was a painting contractor, and Carl was a journeyman painter, he did not see that as his life's work. He visited his sister Clara in Nampa, ID and while there decided to enroll at the College of Idaho in the neighboring city of Caldwell. During the two years there, he was an art major and the official school photographer for special events—such as a visit from the Governor. There he met Helen Franklin who was teaching in the public schools, having graduated from NNC in 1957. Although he was tall and handsome, she has said that the real attraction was that, "He was the nicest man I ever met." They were married June 19, 1959 in Boise First Church of the Nazarene, and were married 64 years. His love for her never faltered. After a brief stay in Boise, he decided to change his major from Art to Industrial Arts. His desire was to help young people prepare themselves to make a living. His choice of schools was San Diego State College where he graduated in 1962 and was initiated into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Professional Fraternity in Industrial Arts and Industrial Vocational Education. In 1977 he earned his MAEd.
Carl was employed by the San Diego Unified School District and taught 29 years, the last 27 at Kearny High School. He taught what is currently called Manufacturing Technology. In addition to teaching the hands-on skills, he endeavored to teach life skills, and became a father figure to some, if not many, of his students. He encouraged his students to enter their projects in the Del Mar Fair, and they won many blue ribbons. Because he was a skilled jeweler, if any student desired, they could stay after school and be taught how to make jewelry. This was on his own time—no extra pay. His reward was the joy of sharing knowledge. He demonstrated the lost wax casting process at the Del Mar Fair and at a jewelry show in downtown San Diego. He was an inventor, and has three patents in three different fields with a big box of drawings of more ideas. If a tool was not readily available, he made it himself.
Carl was preceded in death by son, "Chris" (Carl Ill); parents Carl, Sr. and Eugenia, and siblings. He is survived by his wife, Helen; loving sisters-in-law Arnetta and Venita; nieces Vickie, Susie, and Connie; cousins Jimmy and Tommy; nephew-in-law Dean and his extended family; and of course, his students – his “kids.”
Viewing: September 5, 4 p.m. Family; 5-8 p.m. Friends Funeral: September 6, 11 a.m.
Burial: Miramar National Cemetery 1:15 p.m.
5795 Nobel Drive, San Diego, CA 92122
Celebration Of Life: September 6, 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
8896 Hammond Drive, San Diego, CA 92123
6322 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92115