Elder Darwin B. Christenson, an emeritus general authority, dies at age 87

In addition to serving as a general authority from 2000-05, he served as president of the Brazil São Paulo North Mission and of the Oakland California Temple

Elder Darwin B. Christenson, who served as a General Authority Seventy from 2000 to 2005, died Nov. 8, 2022, at his home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was 87.

Elder Christenson lived a life full of service to his family, the Church and others. In addition to his time as general authority, he served as president of the Brazil São Paulo North Mission from 1981 to 1984 and as president of the Oakland California Temple from 2005 to 2008.

“The Church is the center of our lives,” he said after being called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy at age 64. “We love the Lord, we love the gospel, and we love the members of the Church. It’s an overwhelming blessing to be able to provide service and be with the members as part of this calling” (Liahona magazine, May 2000).

Elder Christenson was born on Aug. 11, 1935, in Firth, Idaho. His father, Lars H. Christenson, worked for the railroad while his mother, Edith Olive Brough Christenson, worked at home raising Darwin — called “Dar” — and his two siblings. He grew up attending Primary and reading bedtime stories from the scriptures.

As a boy, he and his brother played across the rural countryside of Blackfoot, Idaho. In a Church News article, he recalled breaking his arm running across a chicken coop and cutting off his left index finger in a farm combine. Because their family was too poor to afford a pony, the Christenson boys rode their cow — until her milk production decreased.

Most days when he and his siblings came home from school, they were greeted by fresh baked bread and clean laundry hanging on the clothesline.

“You could not have had a better setting in which to grow up,” Elder Christenson said. He was taught the value of hard work, which served him well as a missionary, mission president, tax specialist for the Church and then as a general authority.

As a young man he served a three-year mission to Brazil, where he later returned as a mission president. He not only developed a deep love for the people but also for missionary work. It became the “greatest, hardest, most rewarding” calling he ever had in the Church, he said.

Elder Darwin B. and Sandra L. Christenson | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

While he was reporting on his mission during stake conference, he met Sandra Joelene Lyon. After a couple of years of acquaintanceship and a short courtship, the couple married in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple on Jan. 19, 1962. They are the parents of four children (three living) and have 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Elder Christenson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Idaho State University. After graduation, he worked for the Idaho State Tax Commission and the tax division of the Church Finance Department. He also served in the Idaho Army National Guard from 1953 until 1977 and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After returning from presiding over the Brazil São Paulo North Mission, he became the recorder for the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. In addition to his general Church service, he also served as a bishop, high councilor and counselor in two stake presidencies.

In his one general conference address, Elder Christenson spoke how young people can be soldiers of faith. “The Lord and His prophets provide inspired guidance for earthly sons and daughters to be able to avoid the ever-present sharks of mortality. … This heavenly guidance is provided by God because of His inexhaustible, personal love for each of His children,” he taught.

According to his obituary, he loved skiing, duck hunting and his dog, Cinza,

In the outdoors, he would often count his blessings: his “sweet wife, wonderful children” and grandchildren; trees, sunshine and beautiful scenery; great friends; and the opportunity to work hard for the Lord and help build His kingdom.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Christenson; son, Michael (Shauna) Christenson; son, Stephen (Wendy) Christenson; daughter, Valerie Christenson; sister, Joyce Simper; twelve grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; son, Craig Robert Christenson; brothers, Adrian and Ronald Christenson; and a sister, Janice Christenson.

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