ISHPEMING, MI – July 27, 1927 – August 31, 2021. James Edward Christopherson, 94, of Ishpeming, passed away peacefully on August 31, 2021, at his home.
Jim was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 27, 1927, to Edward A. and Amy O. (Bladine) Christopherson. He grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from Marshall High School in 1945. Jim enrolled at the University of Minnesota, majoring in philosophy and minor in psychology. He spoke fondly of his college job at Churchill’s Standard gas station, where he learned many practical life lessons and a lot about auto mechanics and repair. Always eager to acquire and apply new knowledge, he obtained his private pilot’s license and bought his first plane, an Aeronca Champion two-seater. After obtaining his baccalaureate from U. of M. in 1950, he took postgraduate courses at Macalester College in St. Paul.
In 1951, Jim enlisted in the US Air Force. After basic training at Lackland AFB, Jim was assigned to the new Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). He received training in Washington, DC, and a Top-Secret classification. Assigned to an air base in Virginia, Jim’s duties were like that of a civilian detective in plain clothes. He has been charged with investigating criminal offenses committed by Air Force personnel and conducting background investigations of potential Air Force recruits applying for sensitive military positions.
Jim was transferred to Furstenfeldbruk AFB, near Munich, Germany, during the Allied occupation. His duties were to investigate former Nazis in Bavaria, including a former SS colonel who had not been charged in the war crimes trials – but who was still feared by many local German citizens.
In 1952, while on special leave from the US Air Force, he married Gloria Auerbach, in Minneapolis, MN. They lived at several bases in the United States and Germany. Upon Jim’s release, they moved to Chicago where he attended McCormick Seminary. After receiving his BA in Divinity from Jim, he answered the call to minister to two small congregations in Stanley and White Earth, ND, being ordained by the Presbyterian Church, in 1958. It is to this when Jim and Gloria started their family.
Jim’s next ministerial call came in 1963, in Le Claire, IA. During Jim’s ministry, the congregation persevered with the construction of a new church building, which was completed in 1968. Christian education was a priority of Jim and Gloria’s ministry, as was participation in a group. mission whose outreach program strongly supported the civil rights movement, including the creation of a garden project serving a downtown congregation.
Jim’s theology has continuously evolved throughout his career. He saw his role as “Teaching minister”, preferring not to preach “sermons” but, instead, offering thoughts and ideas from the Scriptures that he described as “For your consideration”.
In 1971 Jim was called to serve in Ishpeming United Presbyterian Church. He did it for 18 years. Soon after starting his ministry, a need for local youth activities became evident. The congregation hosted a teenage night in the church community hall, open to local youth on weekend evenings. Jim was one of the chaperones and he was delighted to get to know many young people in Ishpeming. In turn, this part of his ministry earned him their friendship and respect. This business became an example that prompted the community to form the Ishpeming Youth Center. Jim was also a founding member of the Pericope Weekly Study Group, enjoying discussions and interpretations of the Word of God with area ministers from various denominations.
Upon retirement, Jim shared his time and talents by volunteering with organizations such as the Marquette County Humane Society, Room at the Inn, Presbytery Point Camp and the Homework Club at Trinity Lutheran Church. Jim was able to do a lot of different things – and do them well. He always questioned, researched and experimented. His family were often amazed at his logic, resourcefulness, and problem-solving skills in his many endeavors. He really was a modern “Renaissance man”.
Jim loved meeting people and treated everyone, regardless of age or social status, with dignity and respect. Jim was an excellent listener and a good conversationalist, whatever the topic discussed. He was a sympathetic and modest man with an excellent wit and a good sense of humor. He was always ready to lend a hand to help others. Jim loved animals, especially canine companions whom he considered dear friends. He loved many musical and artistic genres, enjoying public radio and television, local exhibitions, plays and musical performances. Jim was an advocate for providing excellent education to our youth and was a strong supporter of the Ishpeming School District.
Jim especially enjoyed the time spent at the cabin in northern Minnesota, which his parents bought in 1943. Jim became an expert fisherman, including fly fishing. He learned to sail as he approached the age of 70. He loved all the forms of nature found at the cabin, calling it his “Shangri-La”. He was an ecologist and naturalist. He loved to tinker with and repair his many vintage outboard motors. Until recent years Jim also rebuilt an old wooden speedboat and lovingly maintained the cabin and property. He only failed to visit the booth when he was stationed in Germany – and that year.
Jim was a patient and loving father, always supporting his children in their endeavors with encouragement, suggestions and sound advice. He was a great role model for his children to follow as to how best to live their lives. His children are so proud of him and the life he has led.
He is survived by his sons, Peter (Karen) Christopherson of Sheboygan, WI, Calvin (Amy) Christopherson of Wisconsin; daughter, Caron Christopherson (Don Peterson) of Michigamme, MI and grandsons, Jacob and Justin Christopherson.
He was predeceased by his wife, Gloria; parents, Edward and Amy Christopherson, sister, Adele Branch, brother-in-law, Harold Branch, in-laws, Caesar and Carol Auerbach and twin grandsons, Jordan and Joshua Christopherson.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date due to the resurgence of Covid-19. A notice of celebration will be communicated as soon as health and safety permit.
The family would like to thank Jim’s many friends and family in his church for their love and support and are very grateful to Jim’s compassionate support team at UP Home Health and Hospice for their care and helping to honor his wish. to stay in his house.
In his memory, friends are invited to consider contributions to WNMU-Public TV13, 1401 Presque Isle Ave., Marquette, MI 49855; Partridge Creek Farm, PO Box 4, Ishpeming, MI 49849; Ishpeming Salvation Army, 222 E. Division St., Ishpeming, MI 49849; or Doctors Without Borders, PO Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030.
Jim’s obituary can be found at bjorkandzhulkie.com, where family and friends can leave a memorial note.