Milford P. Christenson, a lifelong resident of Griffith, Indiana, passed away on December 10, 2018.
Milford was born on August 12, 1922 in Griffith, Indiana, to Warner P. and Frieda M. (Penning) Christenson. He was a 1940 graduate of Griffith High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Indiana University in 1947.
Milford’s life was dedicated to his family, hard work, not giving up, and giving back to others. While attending Griffith Public Schools he worked in various family businesses, including gas and coal delivery, construction, and hardware and furniture stores. His first paying job outside of family businesses was working for Axel Gustafson in his nursery. While in high school, Milford was on the basketball team and a student manager of the football team.
Milford also served as a student manager for the Indiana University football team while he attended IU. During his last semester at Indiana University, Milford was drafted into the U.S. Army and served 3 ½ years in the 87th “Golden Acorn” Division of General Patton’s Third Army. He served in the European Theater of Operation and was in the Battle of the Bulge, earning the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Service Ribbon, European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, and World War II Victory Ribbon. After WWII Milford returned to Indiana University to finish his bachelor’s degree. Although he returned home in December 1945, he deferred re-enrolling at IU until the fall of 1946 so he could once again serve as student manager of the football team. He then graduated with the Class of 1947.
After graduating, Milford returned to Griffith and worked in the family businesses. A mutual friend introduced him to Margaret Mosny who was the music teacher for Griffith public schools. They married in May, 1949. In 1951, he, along with his father and brothers Roy and Dale, founded Christenson Chevrolet in downtown Griffith. They later bought a cornfield out in the country on U.S. 41 in Highland and relocated the dealership to Highland in 1963 where it has operated ever since. Milford never retired, working throughout his life.
Besides his work, and taking care of his family, Milford filled his life with service to others. Milford was actively involved in various organizations and activities within his community. He was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church of Griffith, and provided support for a variety of projects for many years. He was a member of the school board of the School Town of Griffith for 15 years and also served on the initial board of directors of the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative. For 25 years Milford was a fireman with the Griffith Volunteer Fire Department. He was a member of the Griffith and Highland Rotary Clubs, and had perfect attendance at Rotary for over 50 years. Milford was also a member of VFW Post 9982 and the American Legion Post 66. Milford was on the Griffith Educational Foundation Board and served as chairman of its finance committee when the organization began in the early 1980s. For many years he was also on the Board of Directors for the First Bank of Whiting, which is now Centier Bank. He was a member of the Indiana Society of Chicago Foundation. In 2001 Milford was named Indiana Dealer of the Year by Time Magazine. He supported Boy Scout Troop 131, often providing films, such as John Wayne westerns, The Longest Day, or The Battle of the Bulge, for the scouts to watch on campouts. He arranged for the town of Griffith to obtain the Sherman tank located in Central Park.
Milford supported Indiana University and IU athletics ever since he attended IU as a student and worked as a student manager for the football team. IU honored him with the Clevenger Award in 2008. Milford has attended and supported Indiana University’s family camp, Camp Brosius, for over 40 years. He has also supported Indiana University Northwest and Purdue University Northwest (previously Purdue Calumet). He also supported the Northwest Indiana Symphony. Closest to his heart was the Share Foundation, assisting individuals with disabilities, and Father Campagna’s Boys Town (now the Campagna Academy).
Milford is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Margaret (Mosny) Christenson; daughter Dana (Dennis) Long; grandchildren Katharine Oard, Jacob Long, Dean (Amy) Christenson, Jr., and Tara (Randy) Slavin; great-grandchildren, Mason Oard, Ashley Christenson, Ryan Christenson, and Everleigh Slavin; brother Ervy (Susan) Christenson; step-granddaughters Bridgitte (Roy) Marganti and Lisa (Alan) Buckmaster; several step-great and great-great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Milford was preceded in death by his parents; his son Dean (Faye) Christenson, Sr.; brothers Roy (Mary Lorraine) Christenson, Arthur (Mary) Christenson, Dale Christenson, Sr., and Billy (Betty) Christenson; and sister Lela (Francis (Bud)) Dressel.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday December 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM at White Funeral Home located at 921 W. 45th Ave. in Griffith, Indiana with Pastor Ken Puent officiating. Burial will be private at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elmwood, Illinois. Friends may meet with the family on Friday December 14, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM at White Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Camp Brosius (c/o Indiana University Foundation – Camp Brosius), the Share Foundation, or the Campagna Academy, in memory of Milford P. Christenson.