James Albert Christensen of Laurel Trail in Sag Harbor, a 91-year old World War II Veteran, died at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton on Jan. 14, seven weeks after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
Born on Sept. 25, 1921 in Carrollton, Mich. to the former Iva King and Albert Christensen, Mr. Christensen grew up in Saginaw, Mich., where he graduated from St. Andrew’s High School. While there, he served on the Eucharistic committee, English club, Sodality fellowship, and was a member of the football team.
Following his graduation, Mr. Christensen worked for a General Motors plant that was converting to make machine guns for the coming war. He joined the Navy in 1942, and went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Ill., before being sent to the University of Minnesota for further training. His next assignment was at the torpedo testing range on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. He met his future wife, Leatrice Lorraine Basile, at a dance at the Montauk Manor.
He was assigned subsequently to the U.S.S. Athene, a cargo ship sailing from Providence, R.I. The Athene provided other naval vessels with vital supplies and landed marines at the battles of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other Pacific islands.
When Japan surrendered, Mr. Christensen spent time in Yokosuka, Japan. He received the American Area Ribbon, the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, and the World War Two Victory Ribbon. The Athene was awarded two battle stars for World War II service. Mr. Christensen and his older son, James, marched as father and son veterans in Memorial Day parades until his hip surgery three-and-a-half years ago prevented it.
Mr. and Mrs. Christensen were married in June, 1946 in Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor. They went to live in Saginaw, and later returned to the East End, where Mr. Christensen worked as a glazier for the Riverhead Glass Company for more than 20 years until the business closed. He then worked for Robert E. Otto Glass in Wainscott for more than 25 years.
Reading and woodworking were hobbies of Mr. Christensen, and he made furnishings for his family, including a two-story dollhouse with furniture for his oldest granddaughter, which now belongs to her daughter. He loved to play the harmonica, and his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren enjoyed listening.
Mr. Christensen is survived by his wife, Lea, his son James Russell Christensen of Sag Harbor, daughter Toni-Lea Corwin of Southampton, a son, Richard Alan Christensen of Southampton, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Also surviving him are his sisters, Betty Mehl, Donna Furlo, and Shirley Dowd, and his brothers, Jerry Christensen and Larry Christensen, and many nieces and nephews, all of whom live in Michigan. An infant granddaughter and his brother Edward Christensen, and a sister June died before him.
Mass was said yesterday at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sag Harbor, officiated by the Rev. Peter Devaraj. Burial was in his wife’s family plot at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor. Memorial donations have been suggested to St. Andrew’s Church, 122 Division Street, Sag Harbor 11963 or the Sag Harbor Ambulance Fund, P.O. Box 2725, Sag Harbor.