“Children are my business, my only business”. This was the campaign motto of Mrs. Mary Ellen Christensen when she ran for a position with the Watertown School Board. In the late 60’s she served in this capacity for five years. Her work on the board was just one of the myriad ways in which Mary Ellen served her community throughout her life.
Mary Ellen (Steinhauer) Christensen was born July 4, 1921 and died November 14, 2019.
Known for her ability to organize and get things done, she served in many positions with quite a number of organizations including American Association of University Women, Saturday Club, Euterpe club, Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs, Watertown Community Concerts, Watertown Women’s Golf league and the Watertown Historical Society. She assisted with the AARP Tax-Aide program, and volunteered for years at the Watertown Memorial Hospital in several capacities including being a board member for ten years.
Girl Scouts is an organization that benefited from her love of life and the willingness to share that joy through scouting. While in East Dubuque when her husband The Reverend Andrew Stanley Christensen was studying to become a Lutheran minister, she taught school and organized a Girl Scout troop raising funds to buy thirty Girl Scout uniforms. Her troop in Reedsburg, Wisconsin was led by Mary Ellen from fourth grade through twelfth grade. And, her Watertown troop co-led by Mrs. Maureen Ayers, was led from second grade through twelfth grade. With this last GS troop, she toured with seven scouts through Europe in 1967 including a visit to the Girl Scout Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland. She then met her husband and children in Rome and went on to visit Israel for a month.
With her husband, Stan, and by herself she visited numerous countries in Europe as well as a visit to Tunisia, Casablanca, Mexico, one visit to India without her husband, a trip down the Amazon River, multiple trips to Costa Rica, a trip to New Zealand to reunite with Girl Guides met in Switzerland and to hike the Milford Sound Trek, and one to Nicaragua with her daughter Jan Rae Goecke. With her boys and husband, she caravanned in their Yellowstone Trailer and visited almost all fifty states.
Married to a Lutheran minister offered her many opportunities to walk the talk of her beliefs in Jesus Christ. Her dedication to service extended to teaching Sunday School, directing the confirmation choir for years, teaching vacation Bible school, Ladies Aid, and Bible Circle.
Her love of books inspired her. children to become avid readers and inspired her to start a second career in library science after being a ‘stay at home mom’. She became the head librarian for the Johnson Creek Schools and served in that capacity for seventeen years. Many were touched by her, by her joy of living, by her willingness to help kids learn, and by her intense desire to make the world a better place by living a good life.
She birthed seven babies: Ellen Bruns Christensen, Zolfo Springs, Florida, Jan Rae Goecke (deceased), Laura Myrtle Christensen, Wayne, PA, Martha Olive Christensen, New Lisbon, Wisconsin, Andrew Rubert Christensen, Cambridge, Wisconsin, Mary Jane Christensen (deceased), and Hans Olaf Christensen, Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. She herself was the eldest of six children born to Olive and Rubert Steinhauer of Madison, Wisconsin. She leaves behind five children, eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. Also left behind are a sister, Shirley Sundquist of Madison and a brother John Steinhauer of Clarksville Georgia.
When asked what her happiest moments were in life she replied “Ask any mother. The birth of each child.” She loved those babies with all she had and taught them each “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”
In one of the last Sunday School classes she taught at eighty years of age when discussing death she told her class of fourth graders ... “I hope to enjoy every minute I have here on earth, but as my time gets shorter I fear death less and less BECAUSE I believe in Jesus and expect to live and experience ‘what eye has not seen or ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the minds of men the things that God has in store for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Mary Ellen’s memorial service will be at the East Koshkonong Church on Sunday November 24th at 2:00 pm. Visitation will be from noon that day until the time of the service. Memorials may be made to The East Koshkonong Lutheran Church in Cambridge. Hafemeister Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Watertown is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at www.hafemeisterfh.com.
Hers was a life of love and purpose. She is gone now but never forgotten.